SCARBOROUGH — Hospice of Southern Maine has received town approval for a $296,000 renovation and expansion of the Gosnell Memorial Hospice House that’s designed to make it more comfortable for families and friends of patients who use the facility.

It’s the latest effort by the nonprofit agency to improve the end-of-life services it provides, including home care throughout Cumberland and York counties.

The project will expand and upgrade the family dining area and kitchen, adding a variety of seating, pantry and work space. Currently, both areas become cramped whenever more than one family wishes to have a meal or prepare food.

The project will add about 130 square feet of space to the hospice house on Hunnewell Road by enclosing areas near the covered rear entrance. And it will nearly double the dining capacity from 11 to 21 seats at several tables and at a counter with stools.

“We really want to improve the patient and family experience,” said Kristin Melville, development director for the hospice agency. “We want to create a more homelike environment.”

The Planning Board unanimously approved the project on June 27, said Senior Planner Jay Chace.

The agency has raised $209,000 in donations to pay for the project, Melville said. The rest will be financed through the agency’s capital budget, though donations are still welcome.

Construction will start in October and take three to four weeks, Melville said. During that time, food service will be provided by a food truck.

This is the second major renovation at the 18-bed hospice house in recent years. A $250,000 renovation two years ago reconfigured administrative offices to accommodate additional staff members.

In 2014, the agency bought eight acres of land at 390 Route 1 in Scarborough, where it plans to build a new headquarters to accommodate a growing need for its services.

The agency’s average daily census has increased from 130 patients in June 2015 to 190 patients last month, Melville said. The average daily census at the hospice house increased from 14 to 18 patients in the same period, she said.

The agency’s numbers are up because it has increased public education programs, there’s growing awareness of the benefits of hospice care through news reports, and Medicare recently started paying physicians to counsel patients about end-of-life options.

The agency bought the Route 1 site from Hannaford Bros. using an $850,000 anonymous gift. The new headquarters would replace and expand upon existing office space leased at 180 and 136 U.S. Route 1.

Agency officials anticipate that it will become a hospice center for southern Maine, providing dedicated space for home hospice services, one-on-one and group counseling sessions and community-oriented programs such as end-of-life education and advanced care planning.

The cost and other details about the proposed hospice center are being developed by the agency’s leadership staff and board of directors, including a key donor, Melville said.

“We’re at the very, very beginning stage of discussions,” she said.


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