Local Hospice Expands Outreach with New Brand

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 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.”

Lightways Yellow Star