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County residents received a gift a few weeks ago that many might not realize has been delivered. The Charles County Hospice House quietly opened its doors and now is accepting patients.

Hospice House sits off Davis Road in Waldorf, across from North Point High School. It’s a beautiful new building 30 years in the making. The four-year campaign to build the more than $2 million facility ended in May when a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held. Hospice of Charles County was able to move its administrative office there while it was preparing to be able to offer end-of-life care to terminally ill people at the facility.

In the past, the services the local hospice offers have allowed people who are ill to spend their last days in their homes, with the assistance of doctors, nurses, home health aides, social workers, bereavement counselors, chaplains and other volunteers. Now, the Charles County hospice can offer beds to patients whose families are not able to continue offering care for them at home, perhaps from an aging spouse or family members.

Hospice House offers a comfortable, homelike setting where the patients’ families and friends are welcome, and where the burdens of their care are handled by professionals. There are 10 private rooms in the new facility. Outside of the patient’s rooms are areas that look like they could be in anyone’s home. There are sitting areas and a kitchen. On a tour of the building, a Maryland Independent reporter was told about a recent Sunday where patients’ family members were taking breaks in the common area together. Sometimes the patients are able to enjoy the homey open spaces, too, and not be confined to their rooms.

More people are opting for hospice care at the end of their lives, and one of the reasons is that hospice organizations do a great job providing the services that patients and their families need not only medical care and pain management but emotional and spiritual support, as well. Hospice members and the volunteers make the final days of their patients easier to bear. It is good to know that going to a nursing home or returning to the hospital are no longer the only options for families in the county.

We know that the local hospice organization thrives because so many people have recognized that there is a real need for the services that are offered, and those who have used the services are impressed with the quality of the work.

Hospice House is truly a facility for the entire community. Susan Lawrence, chairwoman of the campaign to raise money to build the house, noted that while a few might have spearheaded the effort, “the whole community built this.”

Charles County couldn’t ask for a better gift.