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New hospice progresses

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Facility boosts local construction industry

By Pat Faherty

Since groundbreaking in early January, construction has progressed on the new HPH Hospice Citrus County campus.

The $5 million project is at 2939 W. Gulf-to-Lake Highway, Lecanto. 

“We purchased 16 acres and will use 8 acres,” said Tom Barb, president and CEO of HPH Hospice. “We want to thank the community and tell them how proud we are to be putting roots into the community — we’re here to stay.”

HPH purchased the property in December 2010.

Longtime local contractor Butch Spires is handling the construction.

“This project will directly affect at least 140 families in Citrus County,” he said. “If you include South Marion it’s close to 230 to 240 families. We pretty much try and use local subcontractors.

“We got a lot of good bids,” Spires added. “This is going to work out well for the community, particularly in this economy. Work has been thin in our industry.”

The 18,000-square-foot building is the first phase of an eventual three-part project. The first floor will be the residence and care center with offices on the second floor. The second phase is planned for up to 26,000 square feet and is expected to cost $1 million.

Spires said the first phase of the project should take 11 to 12 months. Barb said they expect it to be ready in early 2014.

However, the timetable for opening the care center for patients will be subject to inspection by Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration.

“It will be March of 2014 if everything goes well,” he said.

Barb said there will be eight critical-care type beds, which can be used for other patients, in the first phase, with another eight in the second phase. The hospice has 10 beds at the Barrington Place assisted living facility. He said it makes sense to stop leasing and have its own location.

Even with a competing hospice in Citrus County, he is confident there is enough need for the new facility.

“We are trying to make it very family friendly,” he said. “There will be a dedicated family room and a snack area separate from the large kitchen.” 

Barb said the organization pays special attention to the needs of veterans and is building an outdoor veterans’ area in front of the campus. 

Overall, the facility will be surrounded by a park-like setting with fountains, brick walkways, gazebos and landscaping. The care center will be built so patients can be wheeled out for fresh air.

“We are partners with the Veterans Administration.” Barb said. “Veterans have some unique issues when they are dying — it’s an amazing process to bring veterans and families together.”

With Medicare being part of its funding mix, Barb said sequestration (mandatory federal spending cuts) could cost the hospice 2 percent, or $400,000 a year.

HPH Hospice was started in Pasco and Hernando counties in 1984 and in Citrus County in 2005. 

Contact Chronicle reporter Pat Faherty at 352-564-2924 or pfaherty@chronicleonline.com.