PA approves $1 million dollar fund for Julia House

Vydalia Weatherly, Staff writer

Pennsylvania has recently approved $1 million in funding for Julia House in an effort to ameliorate health care options for individuals suffering from serious illnesses in the Commonwealth.

Julia Hospice and Palliative Care is a non-profit organization that offers hospice, palliative, complementary and bereavement care for people in the Erie community suffering from terminal illnesses and their families.

Their philosophy of care includes three aspects: “Understanding the patient as the whole person behind their illness, partnering with the patient and all their caregivers including other doctors to facilitate true team-based collaborative care and employing personalized ‘holistic care’ that brings together both traditional and non-traditional treatments if it is beneficial to the patient’s well-being,” according to the statement on the organization’s website.

There is an urgent need for hospice care in Erie County. The nearest residential hospice facilities are in Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Jamestown, Warren and Meadville. However, the distance often prevents individuals from being close to their loved ones in their final moments.

“My dad would call in the middle of the night when my mom would be in terrible pain from advanced colon cancer. I would race over to their house and spend the night trying to provide some comfort. Then, in the morning it was back to my place to see my son off to school before going into work all day. I was exhausted and felt drained both physically and emotionally. A hospice home would have provided a safe, caring compassionate place for mom but such a place didn’t exist, until now,” Erie County resident Mary Schaaf said on the organization’s website.

Currently, there is a construction plan in place for Julia House. The current plan is for Julia house to be located in McKean, near I-90 and the I-79 interchange, providing close proximity to the center of the county to allow all residents of Erie County to have access.

It will have 18 beds and 38 rooms. Each of the 18-bed suites will have a living space and include a wheelchair-accessible bathroom and shower facility.The suites will be approximately 300 square feet to accommodate loved ones to spend the night.

There will also be family spaces that include showers, bathrooms, lounges and kitchen facilities. The facility will have community spaces available that include childcare rooms, exercise rooms, gathering spaces and a multi-denominational chapel.

In addition to administrative offices, the facility will have two patient care units that include the only outpatient palliative care clinic in the area. The Palliative Care Unit will include a waiting room and three examination rooms.

Each examination room will allow for telemedicine to take place. This will allow patients to receive medical help in person within the facility or at their private homes. According to their website, Julia House originally planned to break ground in 2022. The organization also hoped to fully open Julia Hospice and Palliative Care open by the end of 2022.

It is hoped that this recent funding will allow for these plans to become a reality. Everyone deserves a comfortable end to their life, and Julia House will provide those suffering with just that. Julia Hospice and Palliative Care has been a great part of the Erie community, and the addition of the Julia House is just another example of the great care that comes from their team.