Dozoretz Hospice House, the region’s first, will assist grieving Families

March 5, 2021

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Mary Parker was not ready for her husband of 33 years to die and certainly not for the intense care he would need in his final days.

“Charles was just 48 when he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma before his death at the age of 64. After years of treatment, his health declined quickly after many ups and downs,” says Parker.

“When he came home from the pulmonary care ICU unit, he had hospice care for about three weeks before he passed away. The hospice care nurses were wonderful, but were only there for about an hour a day—leaving me to give him morphine shots and other controlled substances, take him to the bathroom, and handle other caregiving duties for which I was not prepared, physically or emotionally,” says Parker. “It was really tough both for me and Charles, who was watching me struggle day after day.”

Today, Parker is on the board of directors for a group of committed volunteers who are raising $9-million to build the area’s first free-standing hospice house. Terry Jenkins, who was director of Virginia Beach Human Services, is the board chair. “After I retired, the Virginia Beach City Council agreed to donate 2.5 acres on Upton Drive at Nimmo Parkway in the Red Mill section of the city,” says Jenkins. “Although hospice services are available in some assisted living facilities and nursing homes, our region is underserved with regard to inpatient hospice beds. Now we are seeking donations from individuals, organizations, and families who understand the value of having an inpatient hospice house available to serve the Hampton Roads community.”

Shari Friedman is also on the board. “My sister Renee Stretlitz and I are proud that the Hospice House of Hampton Roads will be named after our father, Dr. Ronald Dozoretz, a pioneer in the mental health field and the founder and chairman of Value Options.”

Dozoretz, who earlier started First Hospital Corporation, passed away at the age of 85 in 2020. He became interested in the idea of a 12-bed inpatient hospice and bereavement center when he first heard about it because of his passion for helping people in need, and according to Friedman, agreed to make a sizable donation.

“Renee and I are anxious to see the Dozoretz Hospice House constructed and know that there will also be a fund to take care of patients, regardless of their financial circumstances,” says Friedman.

Hugh Patterson, an attorney with Wilcox and Savage in Norfolk, is also a board member. “I have friends who have lost their loved ones and seen how tough it is at the end,” says Patterson. “So when I was asked to assist, I was glad to help.”

“This will fill such a glaring need in our community,” says Dr. Marissa Galicia-Castillo, director of the EVMS Glennan Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology. “Loved ones are not trained to be nurses and therefore should not be put in a situation where they might feel guilty that they couldn’t do enough for their spouse or parent. And like Mary Parker’s husband, the patient is not always elderly. It’s often younger people who are dying from an accident, a drug overdose, or a disease. It can happen to anyone.”
Jenkins became aware of the value of an inpatient facility when a relative became ill in North Carolina. “She died in a hospice house run by Duke University,” she says, “and it was a lovely place. The quality of care was outstanding, and the staff could not have been more caring and compassionate.“

Jenkins says Westminster Canterbury will oversee care at the Dozoretz House, Beth Sholom Village will manage the financial operation, and area universities will have students perform clinical rotations. “We have excellent partners. We can’t wait to get started.”

The board will break ground as soon as the fundraising goal is met. If interested in learning more or donating, visit
www.hospicehousehr.org.

- Joel Rubin

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