Lifelong friend of St. Luke's provides support for new hospice unit

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St. Luke’s has always been Ed Hemphill’s hospital. He and his late wife, Joan, had their twin daughters, Lori and Lisa at St. Luke’s. In the early years of their marriage Joan, worked in the business office at St. Luke’s and Ed, started his career at Collins Radio (now Rockwell Collins).

The Hemphills made their first donation to St. Luke’s in 1979, naming a birthing suite after their daughters and that legacy of giving has continued throughout the years donating most recently the lead gift of $500,000 for St. Luke’s new Hospice Inpatient Unit. This gift allowed Ed to name the unit in memory of his late wife, Joan.

St. Luke’s Hospice Inpatient Unit opens this month and the hospital is hosting an open house Thursday, Feb. 7 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the east wing of sixth floor of the hospital.

The new hospice unit is designed to offer another option for hospice care. This is the first and only hospice unit within a hospital in the Cedar Rapids area. The new St. Luke’s hospice unit has room for six patients, has a home-like feel and provides state of the art care. All of the private rooms are over-sized and equipped with sleeper sofas. Family space within the unit includes a kitchen and laundry facility. St. Luke’s encourages families and friends to visit with no restrictions. Family can stay with their loved one overnight and amenities, such as meeting rooms and quiet spaces for families, add comfort during a difficult time.

“When a patient’s goal shifts from aggressive or curative care to comfort-focused care this may require more intense supervision that only can be provided in the hospital setting,” said Dr. James Bell, St. Luke’s Hospice and Palliative Care medical director. Of course, many if not most patients want to be at home, and if that is possible, we still advocate for getting them there.”

“People need privacy in their last moments, and we don’t have it here today,” said Ed. “That’s what really got me with this project.”

Over the last three decades the Ed and Joan Hemphill have donated $2.4 million to St. Luke’s Health Care Foundation. In 2007, the Hemphill’s donated $1.6 million to St. Luke’s Child Protection Center.

“Whenever St. Luke’s has needed the Hemphills’ help, they’ve been there for us,” said Mary Klinger, director of major and planned gifts for St. Luke’s Health Care Foundation. “They have given significantly, generously and often.”

“My wife didn’t want to have her name associated with things,” said Ed. “But she’s deceased now, and I think it’s time.”

The Ed and Joan Hemphill Hospice Unit at St. Luke’s Hospital is having an open house on Thursday, Feb. 7 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the east wing of the sixth floor of the hospital.

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