New Agrace inpatient facility will benefit local patients, families

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Shelly Birkelo
Tuesday, January 7, 2014

JANESVILLE—When Max Wells needed an inpatient hospice facility, Agrace's Fitchburg facility was full.

His only option was to be admitted at a local hospital for pain management.

Although “hospitals do an awesome job at making people well again, if you need some place to go to rest, that's not always very conducive,” said his wife, Jan Bue-Wells.

That's why the Milton woman is happy for area families who will have access this summer to Agrace's new Janesville inpatient hospice facility and service center being built at Wright Road and Sandhill Drive.

"I'm excited they're going to have more beds in a facility so patients and families in the Rock County area will have that option not to be quite so far away from home," Bue-Wells said.

Ground was broken on the $6.5 million Agrace Center for Hospice & Palliative Care building in September. To date, $4.5 million has been raised.

"We are working at raising the remaining $2 million of the goal," said Jayme Roth, Rock County development manager/general manager.

The Agrace building on West Memorial Drive is still for sale and listed at $379,000. Sale proceeds will be used toward the new inpatient facility, she said.

New building construction remains on schedule.

"The walls are up, and the roof is going on. Soon the building will be fully enclosed so that the crews can begin interior work. The project is still anticipated to have a July 2014 opening," Roth said.

When done, the 21,000-square-foot building will feature handicapped-accessible space for patients, families, Agrace staff and visitors.

Agrace patients from Rock County and the surrounding region will receive treatment for serious or urgent symptoms that cannot be managed at home, according to its capital campaign brochure.

“When their symptoms are under control, patients will return home or transition to another setting. In some cases, patients will spend their final days or hours at Agrace,” the brochure states.

Such was the case with Wells, who was a patient at the Fitchburg facility for three days before losing his two-year battle Oct. 12, 2012, against colon cancer that had spread to his liver.

If he had been able to get into a hospice facility quicker, "It would have been more restful with quicker pain management, which would have made life less stressful for both of us," Bue-Wells said.

Dealing with an end-of-life situation makes people helpless, she said.

"Agrace was wonderful at taking care of the patient and of the caregiver as well," Bue-Wells said.

Bue-Wells praised the tailored care provided by Agrace's inpatient staff.

"They let us decide how much involvement we wanted plus were very respectful of not coming in all the time and only when we needed them. It was almost like we were able to be together at our home yet allowed privacy and support in a tranquil setting that let the two of us be who we were at this difficult time," she said.

Many area people are using the Agrace Fitchburg facility, so the new facility in Janesville will make life easier for them, Bue-Wells said.

Spending 60 minutes traveling one way between Milton and Fitchburg wasn't how she wanted to use her time at the end of her husband's life.

"I would have rather been with him or the kids," she said.

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