Hopewell House opened January 23 as an independent organization caring for hospice patients at the end of life, after being closed for three years.
Imagine twelve freshly-quilted beds in serene private rooms, homemade meals, 24/7 caregivers with end-of-life expertise, and specially trained volunteers providing support in a homelike setting. This is Hopewell House. And hundreds of people streamed through its doors for an open house last weekend.
“The community will finally have the only licensed residential care facility dedicated to end-of-life care in Multnomah, Clackamas, and Washington counties,” noted Lesley Sacks, LCSW, executive director of Hopewell House, which is run by the nonprofit Friends of Hopewell House. “This is especially important with the silver tsunami of baby boomers. People are seeking choices and support in how they will spend their final days,” says Sacks.
Before closing in 2019, Hopewell House had a 30+ year history of caring for hospice patients in the Hillsdale neighborhood of SW Portland under several owners, most recently Legacy Health. More than 10,000 people died there. After Hopewell House’s closure, Friends of Hopewell House formed to reopen the facility in a more collaborative and sustainable way. In 2022, Friends of Hopewell House purchased the Hopewell House property from Legacy Health, which provided a $1 million discount off the market price for the purchase. Founder Joan Strong Buell says, “When I came back from England having learned about how thoughtful end-of-life care
can be, it became my mission to not only open Hopewell House – then called Hospice House – but to ensure I was part of humanizing end-of-life care more broadly.”
“Every day I hear about people’s experiences with the death of a loved one. We are working to make these hard transitions more comfortable, thoughtful and peaceful and we are ready for people to contact us about coming here,” says Sacks. Hopewell House will care for a diverse population from all generations that is inclusive of all colors, ethnicities, disability, spiritual tradition, sexual orientation, gender, and financial means. It is a 12-bed “home away from home” for those at the end of life who may not be able to die at home because of difficult symptoms, lack of support or because of being unhoused. Residents will have private rooms and many shared living, dining and reflection spaces. Complementary therapies, emotional and spiritual support will be offered in tandem with residents’ hospice provider care. Residents and their visiting loved ones will receive meals cooked in the on-site commercial kitchen and be able to enjoy the four-acre wooded grounds and gardens.
What is different about Hopewell House this time is the collaborative care model it has adopted from Celia’s House in Medford, OR. “Hopewell will be more financially sustainable under this new model that utilizes partnerships with hospital health systems. As we adapt Celia’s House model for a more urban setting, we see potential for more sites providing greater access for hospice patients who need it. We imagine a future with multiple Hopewell Houses across the region,” says Lesley Sacks. Hopewell House has also added a residence room that will be appropriate for children needing end-of-life care. “There are few places in the area that are designed to provide care for children at end-of-life who need more care than can be provided at home. We are really pleased to now have that space,” Sacks noted.
Costs to be at Hopewell House are expected to be 10% of what it would be to die in an acute care setting in the hospital. Funding will come from private pay, long term care insurance, a philanthropy fund for financial assistance, and contracts with hospital health systems to support their patients living at Hopewell House. Hopewell House expects about 50% of residents will need financial assistance to be there.
More than 2,000 people, foundations, and community groups donated more than $5 million and countless hours of in-kind volunteerism and pro bono professional services to reopen Hopewell House.
Hopewell House is endorsed by the Oregon Hospice and Palliative Care Association, as well as many regional and national clinical experts.
Hopewell House is the only licensed residential facility in the Portland Metro region dedicated to end-of-life care. Its mission is to provide the most compassionate and innovative care, in a home-like setting, and to shape and what it means to “live well in the presence of death.” Hopewell House partners with hospitals and other hospice providers, and trained volunteers, in the care of residents and their loved ones. It is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization registered as Friends of Hopewell House, Federal Tax ID 84-3380179.