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(Posted February 4, 2020)

(Winchester, Virginia) – The announcement of the plans for the former Winchester Memorial Hospital has raised concern for supporters of a current resident of the building. Blue Ridge Hospice has been based out of the 333 West Cork Street property since the 1980’s and currently utilizes the entire 4th floor for administrative offices and their Inpatient Care Center. Training rooms and additional offices are utilized on the 2nd floor at Cork Street by Blue Ridge Hospice.

Image: 333 W Cork St (former Winchester Memorial Hospital) where Blue Ridge Hospice is currently headquartered.

Blue Ridge Hospice is the only hospice to offer an Inpatient Care Center in the Shenandoah Valley, raising concern for what will happen during construction of the proposed senior-living center, planned for later this year.

Image: The ‘Butterfly Family Room’ in the Inpatient Care Center (ICC). The ICC is open 24/7 to family and friends visiting patients.

“Healthcare Development Partners (HDP) has allowed us to continue with the lease agreement we had with Valley Health {former owners of the property} and at this time we have no plans of relocating,” said Richard Kennedy, Interim CEO of Blue Ridge Hospice. “Plans are being made to ensure the continued operation during construction in the building of our Inpatient Care Center, as it serves an essential need in this community.”

Blue Ridge Hospice’s history at the location dates back to the early 1970s when its founder, Helen Zebarth, was working at Winchester Memorial Hospital as a registered nurse and was inspired to offer hospice services to her patients. “While on a trip to England, I visited a hospice. It was incredible to see that the patients, all nearing the end of their lives, were alert, engaged, and comfortable,” stated Zebarth.

In 1981, Zebarth and her friend, Gail Rogers, founded Blue Ridge Hospice. “Back then, we had a total of 30 patients for the entire year. Now we are caring for an average of 200 patients a day,” said Zebarth.

“It has been our privilege to serve this area for over 39 years providing the best quality end of life care to our patients and their families. I want to assure everyone that Blue Ridge Hospice is here to stay,” said Kennedy.