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By: Eileen Hooks Gutierrez

It’s been a year of incredible progress for Joliet Area Community Hospice—a new addition, a new building and in the next month, a new name and brand.

The 40-year-old organization will transition to Lightways Hospice and Serious Illness Care beginning April 12.  Lightways will continue to be nonprofit, independent and based in Joliet.

The new name and brand are designed to encompass the health care providers’ expansion and be a catalyst for future growth.

In 1982 when the organization was founded, Joliet Area Community Hospice was the perfect name.  It clearly defined what the organization did—provide hospice care–and where they did it—Joliet.

But now, outreach is greater. Lightways cares for patients in eight Illinois counties and will add three more counties this year for a total of 11.

And services are broader. Lightways continues to provide exceptional hospice care, and additionally has an extensive Serious Illness Care program, the leading Pediatric Program in the state and a comprehensive Grief Support program.

“Hospice care and serious illness care are unique segments in the spectrum of healthcare people will receive in their lifetime. It’s important to us that our brand reflects the unique care we provide,” said Mary Kay Sheehan, Chief Executive Officer.  “People come to us in a dark time filled with unknowns.  At Lightways, we provide unwavering support and guidance to light the way.”

On April 12, a new website will launch at lightways.org and a broad-based multimedia campaign will begin.  The new logo will be used with a “Founded as Joliet Area Community Hospice” description during the transition.

“It’s very important to us that the community understand that we are still independent and nonprofit.  Our Joliet roots are tremendously important to the organization—they are the foundation supporting our growth and expansion,” said Sheehan.

New Addition:

Lightways is expanding the Hospice Inpatient Unit with a 12-bed new addition that opened in February. 

This project is phase one of a two-part project to expand the organization’s facility at 250 Water Stone Circle in Joliet.  The goal is to create a 20-bed facility that provides great functionality for patients, families and staff in a warm and peaceful setting.

The 9,000-square-foot addition includes 12 all-new patient suites that are built for comfort for both patients and families.  Highlights include:

  • Large suites with beautiful décor and natural lighting
  • Over-sized patient beds and state-of-the-art medical equipment
  • Pullout beds for overnight visitors
  • Electronic communications system, TVs with streaming services and refrigerators in every suite

Each room has French doors which open to a private patio.  The doors are wide enough that the patient can go outside from the comfort of his or her bed.

Construction is now underway on phase two—the renovation of the existing Hospice Home.  Built in 2004 as the first free-standing hospice facility in Illinois, the Hospice Home has served thousands of people who require 24-hour care to manage pain and symptoms.   

When the entire Hospice Inpatient Unit is complete, it will feature family-focused gathering areas including:

  • A multi-family living room and dining room where families can gather
  • A private dining room and kitchen where families can prepare and enjoy a special meal if they choose
  • A renovated lobby
  • A business center for families’ use

All construction is expected to be completed this summer.

This $8.3 million project was funded through the Remembering from the Heart Capital Campaign which began in 2017.  A limited number of naming rights are still available for gifts between $5,000 to$50,000.  For more information, please contact Eileen Gutierrez, Sr. Director of Development and Communications, at 815-740-4104.

For Sheehan, the completion of phase one is a milestone for the organization she has led since 2015.    “For nearly 40 years, we have had the honor and privilege of serving those in need of end-of-life care.  The generosity of this community in supporting this project is heart-warming. “ 

New Building

In 2020, Lightways acquired the neighboring office building at 320 Waterstone Way.  As Covid restrictions lift, the building will be a resource center to provide in-person Grief Support as well as training and education for the community.

Grief support is offered to all Lightways families and extends to anyone in the community in need of support.  Licensed grief counselors provide individual and family counseling as well as conduct a slate of workshops.  All Grief Support is provided at no charge.

This summer the building will be dedicated as the Dorothy Brown Resource Center to honor the long-time volunteer and supporter of the Joliet Area Community Hospice.

For Sheehan, this whirlwind of major changes fits Lightways’ bold and innovative mindset.  “We remove

barriers so our patients and their families get time with less pain, less fear and more joy.  We are doing the same thing for our organization—removing barriers so we can provide exceptional end-of-life care for all who seek it.”

As our communities address and manage the COVID-19 risk, please know that Joliet Area Community Hospice continues to provide hospice care, palliative care and bereavement services at the Hospice Home, at patient residences or in care facilities.

We are following all safety and health guidelines put out by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) on how to handle this concern within hospice organizations.

Should you or a loved one need palliative or hospice care, we continue to admit new patients during this time. If you or a family member have any questions or concerns, please contact a member of your hospice care team or me at 815.740.4104.

Visitors:

For the safety of all, we are limiting patients in the Hospice Home to two visitors in the building at one time. We have instituted CDC’s Travel Guidelines (Levels 2 & 3) screening for all visitors and staff entering the Hospice Home including a temperature check. Visitors are welcome at the in-patient unit provided they meet the criteria that limits risks to their loved ones and others.

Events:

As requested by Governor Pritzker, we are postponing all large events scheduled for March and April. This includes our Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans event which was scheduled for March 21, our Volunteer Appreciation Event scheduled for April 14 and Annual Dinner, scheduled for April 20.  It is our top priority to keep our patients, families, staff and guests of our events safe. New dates have not yet been finalized for these events.

We will continue to monitor all situations and will update as needed. Please be healthy and safe.

Mary K. Sheehan, CEO

COVID-19 Statement from Joliet Area Community Hospice—March 13, 2020

As our communities address and manage the COVID-19 risk, please know that Joliet Area Community Hospice continues to provide hospice care, palliative care and bereavement services at the Hospice Home, at patient residences or in care facilities.

We are following all safety and health guidelines put out by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) on how to handle this concern within hospice organizations.

Should you or a loved one need palliative or hospice care, we continue to admit new patients during this time.  If you or a family member have any questions or concerns, please contact a member of your hospice care team or me at 815.740.4104.

Visitors:

For the safety of all, we have instituted CDC’s Travel Guidelines (Levels 2 & 3) screening for all visitors and volunteers entering the Hospice Home.  Visitors are welcome at the in-patient unit provided they meet the criteria that limits risks to their loved ones and others.

Bereavement Programs:

Our Bereavement Services team is continuing to offer individual and small group support groups.   Larger group programs will be available via Live Streaming on the Internet. If you are registered for one of these programs, you will be notified of this option. If you are sick with any symptoms including cough, sneezing or fever, please stay home, get well and attend a session at a later date.

Events:

As requested by Governor Pritzker, we are postponing all large events scheduled for March and April.  This includes our Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans event which was scheduled for March 21, our Volunteer Appreciation Event scheduled for April 14 and Annual Dinner, scheduled for April 20.   It is our top priority to keep our patients, families, staff and guests of our events safe.  New dates have not yet been finalized for these events.

Volunteers:

Volunteers are asked to continue to support our organization as scheduled.  The only change is for those working in nursing homes and care facilities where visitors have been restricted.  Volunteers are welcome in the Hospice Home and administrative offices provided they have followed our visitor screening procedures.

We will continue to monitor all situations and will update as needed.  Please be healthy and safe.

Mary K. Sheehan, CEO

Joliet Area Community Hospice (JACH) will be celebrating and honoring Vietnam Era Veterans at their inaugural Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day Celebration to take place at American Legion Post 18, 15052 Archer Ave., Lockport, on Saturday evening, March 21, 2020.

Vietnam Veterans who may never have been appropriately welcomed home – who were never applauded and thanked for their service and sacrifice – will be celebrated and honored.

All Vietnam Era Veterans and their families are invited for this evening of dinner, speakers, live music, exciting raffles, and fun activities. Pre-registration is required by contacting Kristen Kolwelter at 815-740-4104.

JACH has been honored to care for thousands of veterans since our doors were opened in 1982. JACH now enhances that care with the Joliet Area Community Hospice We Honor Veterans Program. This comprehensive program focuses on respectfully celebrating veterans and providing care that recognizes the unique challenges that may exist in military families. JACH is committed to providing care for those who served with pride, honoring their lives and service to country, and offering the dignity they so richly deserve.

Sponsorships for the inaugural Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day Celebration are available at joliethospice.org under the Events tab or by calling 815.740.4104.

Hakuna Matata! “No worries for the rest of your days,” state the lyrics from a song featured in Disney’s “The Lion King.”  That is the goal of Joliet Area Community Hospice (JACH) – to allow our hospice patients to be comfortable and worry-free for the rest of their days. Now serving eight Illinois Counties: Will, Grundy, Kendall, Livingston, LaSalle, and parts of Kankakee, Cook and DuPage, JACH provides quality hospice and palliative care to terminally ill adults and children without regard to the family’s ability to pay.  and grief support services free of charge to anyone in the community who has lost a loved one and needs help coping with the loss

Joliet Area Community Hospice is hosting the Annual Dinner Fundraiser, Safari Sunset   A Journey of Life on Monday, April 20 beginning at 5:00 p.m. at Bolingbrook Golf Club, 2001 Rodeo Dr., Bolingbrook, IL. The public is invited to the dinner, presented by Signature Sponsors: Busey Bank, The Horton Group and Daley’s Ambulance Services. Tickets are $75 per guest, with tables of 10 available. Dinner, cash bar, raffles, auction and other fun activities will fill the evening. Animal print attire is encouraged but not required. All proceeds benefit the important programs of Joliet Area Community Hospice including grief support services free of charge to anyone in the community who has lost a loved one and needs help coping with the loss

JACH will honor this year’s Heart of Hospice Award recipients, Carolyn Dystrup for her unwavering support, love and advocacy for JACH. Carolyn served as president of the JACH board and supports many of the annual fundraising events as a participant and sponsor. And the Eastside Association for years of consistent support of the JACH mission through their friendship and fundraising on our behalf. Each year, the group hosts an event that benefits JACH.

As we move forward with exciting changes and growth, we want to take a moment to reflect on all that our organization accomplished this winter.

  • Hiring a COO and Senior Director of Development & Communications
  • New Bereavement Programs
  • JACH Fundraising Events
  • Volunteer Updates
  • Upcoming Events
  • A New Partnership with Silver Cross Hospital
  • Construction Updates

To read the full stories and learn more about our upcoming events, click on the link below.

View Full Newsletter

Contact:  Laureen Crotteau, Event and Media Relations Coordinator
Phone: 815-460-3257
E-Mail: [email protected]

The Caesars Foundation awarded Joliet Area Community Hospice (JACH) with a $10,000 grant towards the agency’s current Remembering from the Heart Campaign for the Hospice Home for the addition and renovation of the hospice home inpatient unit.  Randy Conroy, Senior Vice President & General Manager of Harrah’s Joliet Casino and Hotel and other members of his team presented a $10,000 check from the Caesars Foundation to JACH Chief Executive Officer Mary K. Sheehan and Chief Operating Officer Cindy Brassea. After the check presentation, the Harrah’s executives toured the existing inpatient unit and learned more about all the improvements and changes to come.

JACH has a longstanding relationship with Harrah’s and Caesars.  Harrah’s/Caesars Foundation is responsible for JACH’s paved labyrinth walk and garden that provides a lovely place of solitude and reflection for families and visitors; Harrah’s Joliet Casino and Hotel has been a consistent supporter of the agency’s annual dinner and golf outing; and casino staff have volunteered at the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service event. Their recent generosity will provide a patio outside of a patient room allowing patient access to fresh air and beautiful scenery, even if confined to a bed.

Joliet Area Community Hospice changed the face of inpatient hospice care when it opened the first free standing hospice home inpatient unit in Illinois in 2004. Now fifteen years later, JACH is embarking on a capital campaign to add a twelve-room addition to the Hospice Home and renovate and enhance the existing structure.

The $3.5 million Remembering from the Heart Campaign for the Hospice Home will take advantage of recent state legislation passed in 2018 increasing the maximum hospice inpatient unit size to 20 beds, by adding four patient rooms; adding a multi-family kitchen and dining area; adding a larger commercial kitchen and larger spiritual space; renovating the existing patient rooms to add a refrigerator, sink, all new furniture and fixtures and French doors leading to private outside patios; and relocating nursing staff adjacent to patient rooms.

Construction of this capital project is scheduled to begin August 2019 and be completed fall of 2020.