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Evelyn's House Celebrates 5th Anniversary

Evelyn's House Celebrates Five-Year Anniversary of Innovative Hospice Care

What began as a wish and a dream a few years ago now has become a recognizable brand of unique hospice care. Evelyn's House, located on the campus of Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital in Creve Coeur, is celebrating five years of providing compassionate, supportive end-of-life care in a warm, home-like setting.

The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital commemorated the hospice house anniversary Sept. 13 with a gathering of health care and community leaders, families and donors who made Evelyn's House a reality.

While hospice care is often provided in a home setting, Evelyn's House is designed to offer patients and families an alternative choice in special circumstances such as short-term pain and symptom management, respite for caregivers, and when care in the family home is not feasible.

Opened in 2017, the ranch-style, 18,000-square foot hospice house includes 16 private suites for adults, teens and children. Patients receive specialized hospice care in warm, comfortable surroundings. Evelyn's House includes a gathering room with fireplace, family kitchen and dining rooms, sleeping area for family, dedicated music and art therapy rooms, a meditation room, a garden and special veteran recognition.

Since Evelyn's House opened, the hospice team has cared for more than 4,000 patients and their loved ones.

Passion Sparks Community Support

The hospice house received significant community support to open its doors. In 2015, Patrick and Aja Stokes made the first generous donation through The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital to launch the project with BJC HealthCare. The Stokes led fundraising efforts throughout the community and several other visionary donors joined them.

Evelyn's House is named in memory of Evelyn Newman, a well-known community leader and philanthropist who passed away in 2015. Her generous spirit inspired her family to make a special gift that, together with other donors, has given hospice care a home.

Evelyn's son, Andy Newman, and his wife, Peggy, continue to champion the hospice care experience.

"My consciousness about the need for a hospice house in St. Louis was raised by Dr. Ira Kodner and the Stokes. Their passion was the initiating spark for a hospice house and Evelyn's House is a spectacular implementation of this good idea. It has yielded universal rave reviews of loving care that the words Evelyn's House have come to mean. And Peggy and I are honored to be part of it."

Research Improves Comfort, Care and Knowledge

Evelyn's House has resulted in an additional focus on advancing hospice care. Continued donor generosity has led to the creation of a Supportive Care Institute and the division of palliative medicine at Washington University School of Medicine.

Newman praises the leadership of Patrick White, MD, director of the division of palliative medicine at Washington University and chief medical officer of BJC Hospice. Known as "the unstoppable force" with "ridiculously high standards," Dr. White was the first leader at Evelyn's House and became the inaugural Stokes Family Endowed Chair in Palliative Medicine and Supportive Care at Washington University.

Other Evelyn's House leaders include Andrea Holthaus, MD, medical director; and Natalie Mansouri, manager.

Dr. White's pioneering efforts have led to important research discoveries, including finding the best medicine for refractory nausea in patients with advanced cancer to ultimately make patients feel more comfortable. "This research discovery through the Supportive Care Institute will touch tens of thousands of lives," Dr. White says.

Additional research is finding ways to identify people who would benefit from hospice care earlier in their end-of-life journey.

"The opportunity to be part of this has been the most impactful part of my career," Dr. White says. "We see patients and families during the most difficult time yet they're so appreciative of the care we provide."

Can-Do Team Inspires Joy on the Journey

The team's heartfelt commitment to patients and families is evident by the many who have stayed at Evelyn's House since the doors opened. "The reason team members stay at Evelyn's House is because it's the most mission-driven place we've ever been," Dr. White says. "I'm so grateful to everyone who has shared this journey with us."

Stacy Olinger, MSN, vice president of BJC Home Care Services, agrees.

"The heartbeat of this house is our staff and volunteers. They are the cornerstone and are the hands of love that make Evelyn's House a home. Every word and exchange between our volunteers, staff and guests is to embrace hope and bring peace and comfort to them in a time of need. Every team member embodies and lives our mission."

A survey of patient families and loved ones at Evelyn's House showed 97% would recommend the care they received there to friends and family members based on the compassion and care they received from staff members and volunteers.

While hospice care comes at the most challenging time in life, it also can be a joyful time. Over the past five years, the team at Evelyn's House has celebrated multiple weddings, birthdays, and anniversaries with patients. The team goes above and beyond to make dreams come true.

For example, the team made the extraordinary happen when a pediatric patient at St. Louis Children's Hospital had a few days to live but had one last wish—a wish to fly. The team jumped into action and partnered with the life flight team at the hospital and the City of Creve Coeur to clear a flight plan. Five hours after the team received the initial call, the patient was airborne on his first and last helicopter flight. He flew from St. Louis Children's to Evelyn's House, where he landed on the front lawn and then began receiving care at the hospice house for his final days.

Lisa and Kurt Bratton are also grateful for Evelyn's House. Lisa's dad, Tony, had terminal brain cancer and came to Evelyn's House during a 2019 snowstorm after an unpleasant experience with hospice care in another city.  

"Evelyn's House was a life-changing experience for us," Kurt says. "They've created not just an amazing physical space, but they also have created a culture of care and compassion that permeates every person you meet. We were only there for a week and two days but that short experience changed our family's life forever. We feel like we did right by Tony and we're so thankful to have Evelyn's House."

Bringing Peace Through Innovation

After reaching the five-year milestone, Dr. White and the hospice team continue to expand hospice care knowledge and services both locally and nationally. 

Olinger says the dedicated medical team is creating a pipeline of hospice and palliative care leaders. "This house is a beacon of innovation and generator of the next generation of hospice and palliative care clinicians and leaders."

Through Evelyn's House, hospice care innovations are now reaching beyond its doors.

At the anniversary celebration, Dr. White announced a new concept in hospice care coming. "We will train team members at Evelyn's House and then put them in homes so patients can get 72 hours of continuous nursing care in their home versus shorter blocks of time," he explains. "This means more patients can leave the ICU setting to come home with the peace and support they deserve."


About The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital

Gifts to The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital support Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital, Siteman Cancer Center, Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish College, BJC Home Care and Hospice, Evelyn’s House, and Washington University School of Medicine.

Donors make possible lifesaving research, essential patient services, nursing scholarships, nursing and medical education, assistance for patients in financial need, community outreach programs, and so much more. 

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