Local charity helps families stay close to loved ones in the hospital

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KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Borgess Hospital has a new neighbor on Henson Avenue. It’s got seven bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms, a kids toy room, a laundry room and library. And, convenient for the guests, it’s free of charge and a 5-minute walk to the hospital.

“Our mission is to make it easier for families to support their loved ones while they’re getting medical treatment,” said Judy Markusse Paget, executive director with the Hospital Hospitality House of Southwest Michigan. “We support the caregivers, the advocates, the families who have been sitting bedside with their critically ill patient for sometimes days.”

Paget said sometimes family members sit and sleep in the same chair for days. According to their research, 5 percent of guests with their home on South Street said if it weren’t for HHH they’d stay in shelters while 10 percent said they’d slept in cars.

“If we were not here we know 10 percent of the people would not have eaten or had food or the availability of food,” said Paget at an interview at their home on South Street. “So we have the basics everyday for people to make breakfast or make a sandwich to take with them or a can of soup.”

The 8,500 square-foot cottage includes a large kitchen with a connecting dining room and pantry. Paget said guests will be allowed to prepare meals alongside volunteers who cook at their other HHH homes.  All foods and utensils have been donated along with all the furniture.

“The hospital takes care of the patient,” said Paget. “We take care of you.”

Paget said they’re ready to open on Monday August 14th. They’ve been fundraising for years — $4,800,000 to be exact — to open this location and another home. They’re near that goal and already have their first family signed up and ready to go.

“People who come to us are going through horrible, sometimes traumatic, emotional days,” said Paget. “How lovely that they can come to us in the evening and breathe deep again, take a break from the bells and whistles of intensive care units and take care of themselves so they can be ready for the next day.”

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