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New Hospice Suite Dedicated

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If you ask Willis Hansen if he needs anything, he won’t have much to say.

If you ask him what he gives back to his community, he’ll say “50 cents here, 50 cents there.”

Hansen is simple in his convictions, especially when his wife, Patricia, went into hospice care and a transfer from Allen Hospital to an offsite hospice center was suggested. Hansen said “no.”

One year later, the Willis and Patricia Hansen Charitable Foundation Hospice Suite was dedicated thanks to a generous donation from Willis himself. He expressed his gratitude to an overflowing group that included family, hospice staff and other Allen Hospital associates who know the impact the new addition will make for years to come.

“This is our way of repaying Allen Hospital for the services they rendered us,” Hansen said.

Patricia may have even been present in one way or another during the dedication ceremony to show her appreciation as well. Just after Chaplain Sedrick McIntosh delivered a prayer to christen the brand new facility, a lullaby indicating a new child was delivered in the Allen birthing center rang over the intercom.

Daughter-in-law Tina leaned in to say, “that’s something Pat would do.”

During her final days and hours, Patricia was surrounded by family in a traditional hospital room while her loved ones congregated in a nearby waiting room. As always, Willis spent some of that time thinking about how he could help others.

“I said ‘why can’t the hospice have something like this for other people,’” he said. “We’re not the lone rangers.”

A committee headed by Terry Flynn, Lori Murphy-Stokes and Stephanie Schlamp planned a six-week renovation that turned two hospital rooms into one suite enclosed with a portion of the adjacent hallway. A sliding glass door separates the two rooms to provide a separate living space for visitors while all necessary hospital equipment is neatly tucked away in the patient room.

It’s all about comfort at that stage, says Willis, who was able to spend one final long weekend with his ailing wife.

“It’s designed for a person who is going to be there three or four days or maybe two days. It’s an end of life deal,” he said. “If the family has a place to go and place to sit, that’s what it’s for.”

The New Hampton resident has granted that opportunity to hundreds of families who will come to Allen Hospital in the coming years. He’s not alone in his generosity, which is exactly how he wants it and he certainly hopes his numerous gifts inspire others to do the same when they see a need that hits close to home.

“It’s all about donor choice. We’re not the ones who are going to dictate where donors are going to give their money – they have to choose what is meaningful for them,” said Dee Vandeventer, chief development officer of the Allen Foundation. “The other thing is you are absolutely helping enhance the patient experience, and that is the No. 1 thing.”