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A state-of-the-art, one-of-a-kind hospice house is on the horizon for Hospice of the Red River Valley, thanks to a low-interest loan with no fees from Gate City Bank.
Tracee Capron knows what it’s like to sit at the bedside of someone in need of respite. To hold their hand when their pain increases. To read a passage of scripture to prepare them for the journey ahead. To share a laugh while looking through an old photo album. To serve a warm, home-cooked meal that brings comfort. For 30 years, she’s experienced firsthand the grace that’s found through hospice.
When Hospice of the Red River Valley began to see a steep rise in requests for its services across North Dakota and Minnesota in recent years, Capron and her colleagues knew something had to be done to meet the rapidly growing community need. In turn, they began to dream of Heather’s House – a state-of-the-art, unique inpatient hospice home that would provide added care for the region.
To say it was a huge endeavor is an understatement. The project would require considerable funding, support and guidance – a massive act of kindness from someone who truly believed in the nonprofit’s mission, to provide exceptional, person-centered medical care and grief support for the communities it proudly serves. Capron remembers getting the call from Gate City Bank in July 2019.
“Being a caregiver is really hard, especially when there’s a lack of resources. Gate City Bank understood that and offered a low-interest loan that was so affordable. They didn’t even charge for services,” says Capron, Executive Director of Hospice of the Red River Valley. "Thanks to the $16 million loan, we were able to start construction ahead of schedule, which allowed us to begin our capital campaign."
For over 40 years, Hospice of the Red River Valley has served individuals and families across more than 40 counties. During that time – and especially in recent years – it has taken a boots-on-the-ground approach to reaching patients, deploying nursing staff out into far-off rural areas to access people in their homes. It’s a beautiful way to share love and care, but it’s also very expensive and time-consuming.
“Hospitals have hospice care, but they can only travel out so far, and that’s understandable,” Capron says. “Our staff have good hearts, and if traveling farther means helping someone, it just feels wrong to say no. But we serve nearly 400 patients every day, and that number continues to grow. With Heather’s House, everything will be in one place, allowing us to provide the best care for more people.”
Heather’s House is named after Heather Butler, who has volunteered for the nonprofit for more than 20 years. Offering low-to-no-cost end-of-life care for patients, as well as support for their loved ones, the 18-bed, $28 million facility will sit on 11 acres at 3800 56th Ave. S in Fargo, ND. Gate City Bank took part in the groundbreaking in May 2022, and the project is expected to reach completion sometime in 2024.
“A short stay in general inpatient care, typically five days, will be completely covered by Medicare,” Capron adds. “With hospice, we see love in its truest, rawest form. This will be a place for respite, for peace. It’s a place where we can exceed our patients’ and families’ expectations – because nobody knows what to expect if they get that call.”
When it came to designing Heather’s House and earmarking the funds to bring it to life, Hospice of the Red River Valley worked closely with team members at Gate City Bank, pouring extra love and attention into the entire project. From room arrangements to food options to educational resources, every detail was meticulously thought out with families in mind. The goal was to make it feel like home – and it will.
Each patient’s room will come with medical-grade equipment, call systems and professional staff who are available 24-7, all while maintaining a warm and comforting ambience. A maneuverable bed can be wheeled onto a private patio that overlooks a small pond, beautiful prairie landscaping, a veterans memorial and a bell tower that plays calming music. A patient's favorite song can be played to honor them as they leave Heather's House.
“Music is something we’ve always taken into people’s homes, especially for dementia patients. It takes them back to a different time,” Capron says. “Whether it’s the first song you danced to with your husband of 80 years or your favorite band since childhood, we’ll play it.”
When leaving a patient’s room and entering the facility’s interior, there are all the comforts of home, especially for children. Recreation for teens, a play area for toddlers and nursing stations for babies will all be present. Whether it’s video games, art supplies, toys or anything in between, there will be something for all ages. Kids can even start a “You’re Not Alone” journal to build community and support.
“Every moment matters – down to the food you eat, the hands you hold and the snow you watch fall outside the window,” Capron says. “But the number one thing that hospice patients often worry about is their loved ones, especially children and grandchildren. The generational impact this home will have is really important to remember.”
Entire families will have access to kitchens, a dining room, living room and chapel. Staff will also be there to provide bereavement services and facilitate support groups.
The Hospice of the Red River Valley team is quick to say that Gate City Bank is the perfect community partner because of its incredible purpose. For the past 100 years, the bank has prioritized creating a better way of life for community members, including those who seek to find respite and feel at home.
“Our partnership with Gate City Bank on this project is a blessing, and I have found joy in the journey,” Capron says. “With hospice, it’s not about dying – it’s about living.”
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