County hospital expands hospice units

A new unit of Carroll County General Hospital will include two suites where terminally ill patients can be kept comfortable without aggressive efforts to "cure" them.

The unit, which will cost about $700,000 to build, is scheduled to open in April 1993.


It will have 34 beds, 24 to replace an existing unit and 10 added to meet projected demand. Most of the beds will be for medical and surgical patients, who also can be housed in hospice suites if they are vacant.

The hospice suites will allow patients "to be in peace in a beautiful place and to be absolutely comfortable," said Julie Flaherty, executive director of Carroll Hospice.


Many terminally ill patients can die at home, but some have medical conditions that require hospital care, or sometimes the family becomes too tired or frightened to help, Ms. Flaherty said.

Terminally ill patients who cannot remain at home currently are admitted to Carroll County General or other area hospitals. But sometimes physicians who are unfamiliar with these patients order aggressive treatments, Ms. Flaherty said.

She said hospital officials have pledged that hospice patients will not be subjected to unnecessary procedures and will be kept comfortable.

Two suites probably won't be enough to meet the demand, Ms. Flaherty said. But she said that as demand is demonstrated, the hospice staff may be able to negotiate additional rooms with hospital officials. Meanwhile, planning continues for a facility that Carroll Hospice hopes to open in five years.

The new construction will fill a 12,700-square-foot area left unfinished when the hospital completed a patient tower in 1990. Other floors in the tower house the psychiatric unit, and critical and progressive care units.

John M. Sernulka, the hospital's executive vice president, said the existing 24-bed unit may be converted to expand the surgery department, provide additional operating room suites and a larger recovery room.

Hospital officials also would like to create a single labor, delivery, recovery and postpartum room for maternity patients, Mr. Sernulka said. That would involve converting three existing maternity rooms to two and expanding into the space scheduled for closing.

The hospital is trying to raise $200,000 to $300,000 in a fund drive for the new construction. The rest of the cost will come from money on hand from a 1989 campaign and from patient fees, Mr. Sernulka said.