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The Honolulu Advertiser, Aug. 13, 2008, St. Francis Plans $3M in Hospice Renovations 

Joy Yadao,
executive director
of St. Francis Hospice

St. Francis plans $3M in hospice renovations

St. Francis Healthcare System said it is investing $3 million into its hospice centers to renovate its existing facilities and offer new services, including becoming the first hospice program in the nation to introduce an interactive patient television system by LodgeNet Healthcare.

The former owner of St. Francis Medical Centers is using the money to renovate its 12-bed Sister Maureen Keleher Center in Nu'uanu as well as do some upgrade work at its 24-bed Maurice J. Sullivan Family Hospice Center in 'Ewa Beach.

"These renovations are really long overdue," said Joy Yadao, executive director of St. Francis Hospice. But she said St. Francis had put off the investment for years as it devoted its investments to the medical centers.

Yadao said St. Francis introduced hospice to the state in 1978 and has since grown into the larger provider of hospice services between its two facilities and its home-care offerings.

Hospice has been gaining acceptance since it was brought to the U.S. more than four decades ago, revolving around the belief that people have a right to die with dignity. Hospice patients may forgo treatments for a cure and instead get pain management along with having their emotional and spiritual needs attended to.

Last year it's estimated that 2,200 people who died in the state received hospice care. St. Francis Hospice said it's estimated half or three quarters of terminally ill patients in the state are eligible for hospice care, but only one in five are actually admitted into a program.

That, along with the aging of Hawai'i's population means more people will be in need of hospice service in coming years, Yadao said.

Mainland groups such as Bristol Hospice and Ministry Research have been opening or applying to start operations here to address the need.

"I'm glad to see there are new organizations," said Yadao. "On the other hand it just spurs us to invest in our facilities and maintain our position in quality care."

St. Francis' investment in facilities includes installing flat-panel television displays offering the on-demand patient education, information and entertainment programming from Lodge-Net, along with making Internet service available to patients staying at the St. Francis Hospice facilities.

The Nu'uanu center also is undergoing extensive renovations to what was originally a two-story home that was built in 1917 and renovated as a hospice center in 1988.

Yadao said the hospice operation is also expanding the number of people it serves at their homes and in care homes.

Where it now caters to 190 patients daily, the organization is readying itself to handle 225 patients daily for hospice and palliative care, a related service that tries to help people with chronic or other illnesses cope with pain.

She said St. Francis Hospice has hired 10 nurses and other team members such as social workers, pastoral counselors and others to help handle the increase homecare load in the past two years.