The organization is about to start making that a reality.
Ailing trees are being removed in preparation for a $2 million renovation of the offices of a defunct engineering company on a site tucked off Ritchie Highway. Plans call for Hospice of the Chesapeake to relocate there in January from rented space in Annapolis, giving it space for anticipated growth.
Michael S. McHale, the hospice's president and CEO, said his organization has approached providers of other services to rent space on the site to create a community — a neighborhood of complementary nonprofits. The hospice, the property owner, would be the largest.
"We are talking to other nonprofits," McHale said. He said they are being asked, "Would it make sense to locate here and work together?"
The idea is twofold, he said. First is efficiency. "How can we not duplicate services, but better enhance the missions we do and better serve our populations?" he said. Second is economy. "If we did it smarter, maybe we do it for less." Hospice alone is an $18 million operation, and while much of its income comes in insurance payments, it must raise close to $2 million a year to balance the books.
"As this baby-boomer generation moves through, we are seeing more and more people needing the services of hospice," McHale said. And they may need other services as well.
Already, Partners in Care, a nonprofit organization that matches volunteers who can drive and do odd jobs for older and infirm people, has relocated there. The two nonprofits are sharing a grant writer, with more partnerships to come, he said.
For example, he said, it will be convenient for the hospice's clients who need adjustments such as railings made to their homes to turn to Partners in Care's volunteers. The Life Center, a counseling service for hospice clients and the public, helps families cope with grief and terminal or chronic illness, but a tutoring program could be helpful for children whose grades are falling because of tumult in a family, he said.
The site has five buildings; the hospice headquarters is the largest. There's also a vacant house, another vacant building, a building rented to Partners and another rented to a Montessori program for youngsters.
Renovations of the 26,000 square-foot hospice headquarters building are to start in a few weeks. They will turn half the space into administrative offices, a fourth for the Life Center, and a fourth for a small conference center, which McHale foresees will be used not only by his agency but by other organizations in the area.
The conference area is expected to be able hold up to 100 people for training sessions and meetings.
Tentative plans call for the hospice to build a 14-bed, one-story inpatient acute-care hospice facility on the site — each patient room opening to a patio — with the possibility of expanding it in the future. That would be in addition to its two existing eight-bed facilities, the Tate Hospice Center in Linthicum and the eight-bed acute-care Mandarin Inpatient Care Center in Harwood.
An application for the new inpatient facility recently was submitted to the state, he said.
Calming landscaping for the area is being designed to feature two fountains by the hospice headquarters, include native plants and capitalize on the woods. The property is so buffered by the woods that the setting seems removed from bustling Ritchie Highway.
While the hospice, which provides services in Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties, now deals with 2,200 patients a year, the Life Center's programs have another 1,000 clients, he said. Over the past eight years, for example, the number of people who receive the hospice's services has grown from 150 a day to 350 a day, McHale said.