Catholic Hospice Inpatient Unit at Holy Cross Hospital

FORT LAUDERDALE | Archbishop Thomas Wenski visited with patients in their rooms at the new Catholic Hospice inpatient unit in Holy Cross Hospital after a ribbon-cutting and blessing ceremony March 25.

“I’ll pray for you, and you pray for me,” he told an elderly woman who smiled as he held her hand and posed for a photo with her.

Archbishop Thomas Wenski, aided by his master of ceremonies Father Richard Vigoa, prays during the dedication of the new inpatient Catholic Hospice unit at Holy Cross Hospital.

Photographer: MARLENE QUARONI | FC

Archbishop Thomas Wenski, aided by his master of ceremonies Father Richard Vigoa, prays during the dedication of the new inpatient Catholic Hospice unit at Holy Cross Hospital.

The 10-room unit on the hospital’s fifth floor is meant to control a patient’s symptoms while in a hospital environment with doctors nearby. Once their symptoms are controlled, patients could be sent back to their home or nursing facility, said Maurice Israel, the unit’s manager. It is the first inpatient hospice facility in Broward County.

Catholic Hospice, which is affiliated with Catholic Health Services, also has a 13-room unit at St. Catherine’s West in Hialeah Gardens that serves patients in Miami-Dade County.

“Based on the current local need and the success of the Catholic Health Services West Campus in Miami-Dade, we are confident that we are bringing a unique, high-quality, compassionate service to the Broward community,” said Joe Catania, president and CEO of Catholic Health Services.

The inpatient unit will focus on providing compassionate end-of-life care to be delivered in a homelike environment, said Bonnie Alkema, executive director of Catholic Hospice.

Scenic pictures line the unit’s hallway and inspirational messages hang in patient rooms. Among the messages: “Without faith, nothing is possible” … “Laugh as long as you breathe and love as long as you live” … “Where there is great love, there are always miracles.”

“A patient will receive concierge-level service 24 hours a day,” said Israel. “We want to reflect a home environment. In each patient’s room there’s a chair that opens into a companion bed so that a family member can stay overnight. We have a family room with a computer and a children’s play area. There’s also a pantry room, washer and dryer and a quiet room where family members can sit quietly or talk to a chaplain or counselor.”

Dr. Patrick Taylor, president and CEO of Holy Cross Hospital, called the collaboration between Holy Cross and Catholic Hospice a natural fit.

“This unit will complement our comprehensive services while supporting our core values,” he said. “This collaboration allows Holy Cross to continue the Sisters of Mercy commitment to being a healing presence in our community.”

Archbishop Wenski told those at the opening ceremony that the new unit is a sign of the Church’s vitality and ongoing commitment to the dignity of human beings at all stages of their development, particularly through the health care ministries.

“The men and women who work in these health care ministries not only talk the talk, they walk the walk,” he said.