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Feb 10, 2015 5:13 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

East End Hospice Workers Leave Their Mark On New Inpatient Facility

Feb 11, 2015 1:04 PM

While many have left their figurative mark during East End Hospice’s long journey to open an inpatient care facility on the South Fork, the nonprofit’s employees made literal marks on the structure Tuesday morning.

As workers with Hauppauge’s Axis Construction prepare to put the finishing touches on the Quiogue building’s steel frame later this week, dozens of East End Hospice staff members and volunteers signed their names on the final girder that will make up the building’s framework.

“It’s a special occasion for all of us, because we all worked so hard to make this a reality,” East End Hospice campaign coordinator Maribeth Edmonds said Tuesday. “This is a way to recognize all us worker bees who are here day in and day out.”

The final steel beam will be hoisted to the top of the frame today, February 12, Ms. Edmonds said, completing the first stage of construction on the recently named Kanas Center for Hospice Care. The steel girders soon will be wrapped and then covered by the building’s exterior—but the names on that final beam will remain exposed and visible from the building’s attic.

“It’s in permanent ink, so it’ll be there forever,” Ms. Edmonds said, “recognizing those who put in the work to make this a reality.”

East End Hospice broke ground on the future site of the inpatient facility on Meetinghouse Road in July, after more than a decade of planning and fundraising. East End Hospice President Priscilla Ruffin, who signed her name to the beam on Tuesday morning when it was still outside her organization’s main office in Westhampton, said the work has progressed quickly, even in the face of inclement weather, as Axis stopped work for only one day during last month’s snowstorm.

Ms. Ruffin said Tuesday’s event represented the culmination of all the hard work she and others have put in since before the organization was even certified by the state. “I think I’ll need a Kleenex when it goes up on Thursday,” she said.

The 11,000-square-foot, one-story building will have eight bedrooms as well as a spa, a great room and a bereavement counseling center. East End Hospice officials hope the building will be completed by this summer.

So far, the group has raised $8.7 million for the project, Ms. Ruffin said, with the help of thousands of donations, ranging from $5 to the $2 million donated by East Moriches philanthropists John and Elaine Kanas, for whom the building is named. Fundraising efforts are ongoing.

Ms. Ruffin said the need for an inpatient facility is constantly growing as more people are living longer and fewer people are able to take time off from work to care for their dying relatives. “There are tremendous economic pressures on people today,” she said. “No one can afford to quit their job to stay home and take care of a loved one.”

Currently, East End Hospice provides in-home hospice care, but that requires a family member to be home. The goal of the inpatient facility is to provide end-of-life care to individuals who do not have family members who can be home to assist them.

East End Hospice employee Sarah Bowe, one of the dozens of employees who signed the beam on Tuesday, said she takes calls constantly from family members inquiring about inpatient care. She said she’s excited to finally be able to give those families some good news.

“It’s amazing that they’re actually building a facility,” she said. “To be able to serve the entire East End community will be amazing.”

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