By Kathy Knotts
Staffing challenges led the leadership at Calvert Hospice to close the doors to the Burnett Calvert Hospice House in Prince Frederick. Announced last week, the hospice board of directors made “the incredibly difficult decision to suspend operations” at the house immediately.
Executive director Jean Fleming says that while the house will be closing, her organization will continue to provide all the services the community has come to depend on them for.
The independent, community-based non-profit agency provides specialized care for those facing a life-limiting illness. It also assists the families and caregivers of the patient. “We are still going out to patients to wherever they call home,” Fleming says. “We haven’t missed a beat.”
In a letter to the community, Fleming writes that “We are living in times of unprecedented challenge and change, forced to make difficult decisions and choices we wouldn’t have imagined possible just one year ago. Calvert Hospice is no different. At this time, we simply cannot ensure that level of staffing for our House and our families.”
The house, which opened in 2010, is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by two certified nursing assistants, a registered nurse on weekdays, as well as other employees, “through holidays, hurricanes and snowstorms. Within the past six months, we have experienced some holes in staffing that we’ve not been able to fill adequately,” says Fleming.
Fleming stressed that the suspension was not caused by any financial difficulties. Calvert Hospice absorbed part of the cost of operating the house annually, and thanks to the generosity of the community were able to cover that deficit ever year. The Burnett Calvert Hospice House opened mortgage-free thanks to community donations. Barbara Burnett donated the 2.5 acres of land on which the house stands in memory of her husband Rob Burnett.
Current staff are being aided in a transition process and patients are being placed in alternative locations. In its 10-year history, Burnett House has served 556 patients in its six-bed facility. Fleming points out that that is just 15 percent of the total number that Calvert Hospice serves throughout the county.
The board of directors and leadership will work “carefully and methodically” to determine what will happen to the building. Fleming says they will work to ensure “it remains a valuable resource to the community.”
“Going forward, we are committed to providing the same level of care for our patients and their families wherever they call home, just as we have done for over 36 years. We are also committed to creating a future that serves our neighbors when they need us most, honoring the extraordinary support we have been given by our community in so many ways, for so many years.”