Much celebration could be heard last fall on Center for Hospice Care’s (CHC) Mishawaka Campus as the completion of the Ernestine M. Raclin House culminated the five-year Cornerstones for Living: The Crossroads Campaign. In all, three events were held to celebrate the new in-patient unit, giving donors, community members and employees a chance to experience the beauty of the new space before patients are moved into the building in early 2020.
The first event featured the official ribbon cutting for the 17,000-square-foot space and focused on the donors that made the building possible. Guests were fortunate to be graced with the presence of the project’s key donor and the building’s namesake – Ernestine M. Raclin – as well as many members of her immediate family. Raclin’s daughter, Carmi Murphy, along with Mishawaka Mayor Dave Wood, Mike Wargo, COO of the Hospice Foundation, and Mark Murray, president/CEO of the Hospice Foundation and CHC spoke at a press conference before the event which attracted many area media representatives. About 200 people attended the ribbon cutting ceremony to hear from an impressive lineup of speakers that included Ernestine Raclin, former Mishawaka Mayor Jeff Rea and project architect Jeff Helman of Helman Sechrist Architecture as well as Murphy, Murray, Wargo and Wood. Each speaker was able to offer a unique perspective on the 12-bed in-patient unit.
“This area that contained three condemned buildings, a warehouse that had a roof that was falling in – the fact that hospice came in, worked with the city to transform this site, it’s what got everything started in Mishawaka,” says Mayor Dave Wood. “I credit Hospice for the momentum, turnaround, in downtown Mishawaka.”
The second event featured an open house that drew crowds of CHC volunteers and interested community members. The third event was a special preview for staff to see their workspaces and the facility in which they will work every day. Guests during all three events were impressed by the serene atmosphere of the Raclin House and the accessibility not just for patients, but for their families as well. Each of the 12 rooms overlooks the St. Joseph River and the doors are large enough for the beds to fit through, which allows patients to move throughout the building and out onto the terraces. The entire unit was built with families in mind and allows each age group to have a space of their own. There is a large family room with dinner tables, fireplaces, comfortable couches and large TVs where groups can congregate, but there are also spaces specifically for teens and young children to go when they need a few minutes respite. A spiritual reflection room was created for quiet reflection or prayer. The space is non-denominational and can even hold ceremonies or memorials for families during a patient’s stay.
“This is wonderful. It’s nice to finally see this facility. It’s really gorgeous and is going to be very beneficial for patients and even more for their families. Patients aren’t going to remember a lot of what happens here, but families will,” Paul Piller, CHC volunteer said. “I love the spaciousness and comfort that shows in just about every place around here, and that the patients are going to be able to look out at the river.”