LAVN Bringing Hospice Vision to Reality

Los Alamos Visiting Nurses Founder and Executive Director Sarah Rochester on the proposed site of Sanctuary at Canyon’s Edge, the new hospice facility the organization will soon build. Photo by Bonnie J. Gordon/
Architectural rendering by Doug Cook of the new hospice facility as envisioned by Los Alamos Visitng Nurses. Courtesy image
Los Alamos Daily Post

When Los Alamos Visiting Nurses (LAVN) Executive Director Sarah Rochester founded the non-profit organization with Edie Anderson in 1973, the two nurses were the only employees and their office was a room at the Episcopal Church.

Fast forward 40 years. LAVN and its 40 employees are celebrating their 40th birthday 4-5:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4 with a Birthday Barbeque at their spacious new headquarters on five acres at the former Boy Scout Lodge, 2202 Canyon Road.

The only home nursing care services located in Los Alamos, LAVN and its Los Rios Branch Office provide home care and hospice services for clients ranging from infants to the elderly for northern New Mexico, covering an area the size of the state of Massachusetts.

LAVN provides skilled nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech and language pathology, medical social services and home health aides. Hospice services have become a growing part of its work as the population of Los Alamos County ages. Hospice treats the physical needs of terminally ill patients, as well as their emotional and spiritual needs. Now the organization is well on the way to fulfilling its new dream, a state of the art six-room hospice facility at their Los Alamos site, the Sanctuary at Canyon’s Edge.

“The terminally ill usually want to stay at home, but that’s not always an option,” Rochester said. “We want to build a facility that will be comfortable and home-like as well as provide 24/7 medical care. Our dream is to build a facility where patients can spend their final days in comfort and dignity, surrounded by their loved ones.”

The new facility will provide respite care for the terminally ill, as well as permanent place for those who cannot receive the care they need at home, Rochester said. Currently, the closed hospice care facility is located in Albuquerque. The average hospice stay is six months. This puts an enormous burden on the family of the terminally ill, who must travel many miles to be with their loved one.

The new Los Alamos facility with have spacious rooms, with decks overlooking the canyon. There will be room for family members to stay with their loved one, kitchens and meeting rooms and beautifully landscaped grounds, Rochester said.

LAVN is well on the way to making this dream come true. They have raised $714,526 as part of its $3 million capital campaign. The goal is to raise $1-1.25 million by spring 2014.

“At that point, we’ll have enough to start asking for grant and foundation money. Foundations want you to raise 40 percent of the funds before they invest in your project,” Rochester said. “We want to put shovel to dirt in 2014. People in Los Alamos have given a lot to this country. This facility will give back to them in their final days. Fresh air and a view in a tranquil, safe home-like environment ─ that’s about as good as it gets.”

To learn more about LAVN and Sanctuary at Canyon’s Edge, or to contribute to the campaign, visit LAVN, call 505.662.2525 or stop by 2202 Canyon Road.

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