Ground Breaking Ceremony
BJC HealthCare broke ground May 10, 2016, on the 18,000-square-foot facility that now serves both adult and pediatric patients and their families from throughout the area. The St. Louis region has only 18 hospice house beds, none of which is dedicated to pediatrics.
The hospice house is named after Evelyn Newman, a prominent St. Louis community leader and philanthropist who passed away in 2015 at age 95. The Eric P. and Evelyn E. Newman Foundation made a $5 million gift through The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital to help build the hospice house.
The Newman family has supported numerous organizations and causes around St. Louis. Evelyn Newman was an “idea person” whose creative philanthropy endures in our community in many ways. She is credited with founding the Greater St. Louis Book Fair, the Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House, Forest Park Forever, the Gypsy Caravan that benefits the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and many other projects.
“The hospice house may be the most personal project we have ever been part of,” says Andy Newman, Evelyn’s son. “Our family has come to understand that this BJC hospice house reflects my mother’s values and serves our community in a new and important way. My mother was passionate about pursuing pioneering projects to help so many St. Louis organizations thrive. She wouldn’t want us to be involved with this project unless it was of the highest quality. We’ve been impressed with everyone involved in this project and are confident this hospice house —Evelyn’s House — is best in class.”
The ranch-style, 18,000-square-foot hospice house offers a warm, comfortable environment where hospice patients are guests, receiving specialized care in comfortable surroundings that involve family members and caregivers.
While hospice care is routinely provided in a home setting, Evelyn's House is designed to offer patients and families an alternative choice in special circumstances such as the short-term management of pain and symptoms, respite for caregivers, and when care in the family home is not feasible.
“We know that my mother would want this hospice house to be welcoming, warm, comforting and friendly — not like a hospital but like a home,” Newman says.
To that end, when the Newman family decided to support the hospice house, ice cream treats were built into their gift agreement with The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital.
“My parents have always considered ice cream to be a key part of everyday hospitality, so Evelyn’s House will always have ice cream treats available to patients and families,” Newman says. “We know my mom would be pleased by that.”
About 100 attended the ceremonial groundbreaking in which the color guard presentation was given by the United States Transportation Command Joint Service Color Guard out of Scott Air Force Base and the National Anthem was sung by Alison Cole, BJC Hospice music therapist.
“A hospice house has been a dream come true and it feels good knowing that it is filled with patients and families making the most of every moment,” says Barbara Westland, director of BJC Hospice. “The hospice house groundbreaking was a major step in strengthening our commitment to compassionate end-of-life care to more fully embrace patients and families during a difficult time,” says Patrick White, MD, the chief medical officer for BJC Hospice who leads Evelyn’s House. “Evelyn’s House is designed to provide the highest level of support possible to our patients and families and is a vital resource to our community. We’re so grateful to our donors and for the thousands of hours of hard work by our staff, volunteers and community partners who made this hospice house a reality.”
The concept of a freestanding hospice house dedicated to providing end-of-life care is receiving strong community support. Patrick and Aja Stokes made the first donation of $5 million at the end of 2015 through The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital to launch the project with BJC HealthCare. The Stokes have been instrumental in leading fundraising efforts throughout the community and several other donors have joined them to support the hospice house. In addition to the Stokes and Newmans, lead donors who made gifts of $500,000 or more to date include Ruth and Alvin J. Siteman, Marilyn and Ambassador Sam Fox and the Edison Family.
“Aja and I recognized just how much a hospice house means to families when Aja’s sister was cared for in a hospice house in Sweden,” Patrick Stokes says. “That powerful experience guided us to this mission of giving hospice care a home in St. Louis. I can’t think of a more worthy investment right now than this hospice house and we are honored to have others join us in this mission. This hospice house exemplifies St. Louis’s can-do, altruistic spirit that drives the great achievements in our community.”
Additional financial support for Evelyn’s House is from The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St. Louis Children’s Hospital Foundation, Friends of St. Louis Children’s Hospital, and Friends of Wings, which supports the BJC Pediatric Hospice and Palliative Care program. BJC HealthCare is also funding the project.
BJC Hospice serves more than 25 counties in Missouri and Illinois, including St. Louis City and County, St. Charles, Jefferson, St. Clair, Madison, and several others.