East End Hospice unveils its big plans

An artist's rendering of the new building.

For the first time since its founding in 1986, East End Hospice will be able to construct a facility that will offer inpatient services, thanks to a contribution of six acres of waterfront property in Quogue.

Elmo Monfrede, who died in January 2000, was a single man with no living relatives to inherit his property, according to hospice president and CEO Priscilla Ruffin. Speaking at a press conference at East End Hospice offices in Westhampton Beach last Thursday, Ms. Ruffin said Mr. Monfrede’s longtime friendship with one of the group’s founding board members, Dorothy Savage, led him to will the land to the organization.

“He very much wanted to see [the land] used for hospice purposes,” Ms. Ruffin said.

In a somewhat stealthy fundraising effort over the past year, East End Hospice, which mainly cares for the terminally ill in their homes, has brought in $4 million toward an estimated $10 million goal. Construction is estimated to cost $8 million and the plan is to use the remaining $2 million to start an endowment to maintain the unit.

Architect Roger Ferris of Roger Ferris & Partners LLC of Westport, Conn., described the planned facility as “a village” with eight individual patient rooms, each with a full view of the pond and daily sunsets.

Each room will open onto a private deck and vaulted ceilings will provide a sunny atmosphere, he said.

The facility will include a sunroom and library as well as transitional space outside each patient room for family members to gather. There will be a full kitchen for use by families and staff and a spa room with a soaking tub.

Skylights will illuminate the main hallway, Mr. Ferris said.

Hospice services are covered by Medicare and Medicaid as well as by some private insurers, but no patient is turned away for lack of money, Ms. Ruffin said. East End Hospice does depend on contributions and fundraising efforts to augment payments for the services it renders to terminally ill patients and their families, she said.

The inpatient facility will provide “a really beautiful, bucolic spot” with appropriate care, she said.

The organization had to pass muster with the New York State Department of Health and gain zoning approval to operate an inpatient hospice program in Quogue. It still faces site plan approval before construction can get under way, according to campaign steering committee chairman L. Wesley Lowd.

“It’s a hard time to raise money,” Ms. Ruffin said. “We’re grateful to be as far along as we are.”

Board chairman W. Michael Pitcher said an inpatient facility has long been a dream for East End Hospice, which serves 500 to 600 patients a year in Riverhead, Southold, Shelter Island, Fishers Island, Southampton, East Hampton and eastern Brookhaven.

“When the property was donated, that really kicked it into reality mode,” he said.

About half the patients the organization serves are from the North Fork, Ms. Ruffin said.

There is even a group of pilots who volunteer their time to transport patients in need of hospice care from Fishers Island, Mr. Pitcher said.

With families scattered around the world these days, end-of-life care becomes very difficult for many, Ms. Ruffin said, adding that patients often live alone or with relatives who can’t provide them with full-time and appropriately safe care.

About 70 percent of terminally ill patients are able to receive hospice care at home, but 30 percent spend their final days up in a hospital or nursing home in their final days, Ms. Ruffin said.

To gain approval from the state health department, East End Hospice had to limit the facility to eight rooms to maintain a homey feel, Ms. Ruffin said.

On Saturday night, June 25, East End Hospice will host its summer gala, “A Night in Venice,” at the Sandacres Estate in Quogue to launch the next phase of its building fund drive. For ticket information, call the development office at 288-7080.

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East End Hospice
‘A Night in Venice’
Sandacres Estate in Quogue
Saturday, June 25
To benefit inpatient building fund drive
Call 288-7080 for tickets