Heart & Home

Photographs: ©Andrew Rugge, Courtesy Perkins Eastman

In January, Mary Ellen Hagedus of Fairfield was desperate to find a warm and loving place for her Aunt Peg to spend the last days of her life. Her aunt could no longer stay in the hospital and her assisted-living home could not provide the round-the-clock care she needed.

One phone call led to another and someone told Mary Ellen about the new Fairfield County Hospice House (FCHH) in Stamford. As soon as she stepped through the doors, she realized this was the place for her aunt. “I was blown away,” she says. “Every detail just oozed compassion. The staff displayed such thoughtfulness and I knew that Aunt Peg’s every need would be met. We found home.”

Those words bring a smile to the faces of Greenwich’s Loretta Lacci, executive director, and New Canaan’s Colleen Harkey, development director. Creating a home was always the intent.

“Our goal has always been to provide home hospice care in a residential setting … to create a home where our residents are comfortable and well cared for,” Loretta says, adding that it is equally important for family and friends to feel at home, where kids can kick off their shoes and run around, and where families can gather around a fireplace and talk.

“We strive to help families find joy in the time they have together,” says Colleen. “You can go anywhere to receive services. This home is filled with joy and positivity. Our goal is to make the last months or days meaningful.”

Mary Ellen would say that goal was accomplished. Her Aunt Peg only lived eight days at FCHH, but the days were filled with love and respect. “People hear the word hospice and they run the other way.

We are all going to die. And this is a wonderful place to meet the end of your life. Dignity, respect, beautiful facility filled with sun, calming colors, calming staff and amazing care are all woven into the fabric of the place. I feel nothing but gratitude.”


HOW IT CAME TO BE

A core group working tirelessly for eight years made this concept a reality. Loretta Lacci, herself a longtime member of FCHH’s board of directors, credits the original idea to Lynda Tucker, a nurse with the Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care of Fairfield County. Lynda enlisted the help of Cici Coutant, Rick Redniss, Lisa Rich and Lawrence Weisman, and together they set the plans in motion.

Volunteers raised $1.4 million; secured $1 million of in-kind donations, including the property worth $450,000 from the Roxbury Association; and obtained a $1.25 million state construction grant. They also worked with neighbors in the Den and Roxbury roads area, pledging to retain a residential feel. There is no signage, and the parking lot and entrance are at the rear of the property, out of sight from the road.


ONCE INSIDE

The colonial home looks like its neighbors—painted a soothing gray-blue, with crisp white trim, a large front porch and a welcome mat to greet visitors. You have to look very carefully to realize this is a hospice home. There are 10,000 square feet of living, relaxing and office spaces that include:

  1. SIX RESIDENT ROOMS, ALL WITH PRIVATE PORCHES AND MODERN BATHROOMS INCLUDING SHOWERS AND WALK-IN BATHTUBS
  2. A COZY DEN TO SIT AND READ OR JUST TALK
  3. AN EXPANSIVE FAMILY ROOM WITH A FIREPLACE AND TV
  4. A SLEEK, WELL-APPOINTED KITCHEN
  5. A LARGE DINING ROOM
  6. A SANCTUARY FOR MEDITATION, REIKI AND MASSAGE
  7. A RESPITE ROOM, WHERE FAMILIES CAN GATHER OR CHILDREN CAN DO THEIR HOMEWORK. FAMILY MEMBERS CAN ALSO CATCH A FEW HOURS OF SLEEP ON ONE OF THE PULL-OUT SOFAS
  8. A MULTIPURPOSE ROOM FOR FAMILY PARTIES


WHAT’S THE COST?

The cost is $550 per day, which includes room and board, nursing care, activities, laundry and housekeeping. FCHH is considered an out-of-network facility and will provide an invoice that can be sent to the insurance company.

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