Kentucky's Hildegard House accepting first resident
At least 49 people died alone in Louisville last year. That will soon change, thanks to Kentucky's first and only home that gives the elderly without family -- as well as the homeless -- a comfortable place to stay at the end of their lives.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- At least 49 people died alone in Louisville last year. That will soon change, thanks to Kentucky's first and only home that gives the elderly without family -- as well as the homeless -- a comfortable place to stay at the end of their lives.
Karen Cassidy noticed the alarming statistic firsthand as a palliative care nurse practitioner.
"For years, I worked in the hospital, discharging people that were dying that didn't have a place to go. It was very disheartening for me to see we do this to our neighbors," said Cassidy, executive director of the Hildegard House.
Cassidy couldn't stand by. She found the current space, which was once a convent, then a daycare, that sat empty for years until 2014.
"Since that time, we've been raising money and getting this house ready," Cassidy said.
The city's homeless, and elderly individuals without family, will come there, calling the house their home at the end of their lives.
"Older people whose spouses die, and they don't have any children, and dying alone, or homeless people who are discharged to the hospital, back to the shelter. And homeless shelters are not places that you can go for the end of your life," Cassidy said.
"You're helping this person come to the end of their life and hopefully do it in a way that's comforting, reassuring, as opposed to scary and lonely," said Abbie Trowbridge, volunteer coordinator for Hildegard House.
Cassidy and Trowbridge say they're grateful to the Louisville community for its help and support. More than 400 volunteers, including Mark Clore of Clore Construction, helped make the Hildegard House what it currently is.
"Hildegard was a healer, She probably had one of the first hospices in Germany. People would come to the monastery to be healed," Cassidy said.
"This is a population in Louisville that's not being served yet," Trowbridge said. "We are there just to walk with our residents on the journey they are on."
Hildegard House will provide compassion and care to three residents at any one time. Volunteers expect to help about 50 residents per year from dying alone. The first resident arrives this July.
"They're small. We don't want to get too big because it's not a facility, it's a home, and so the idea is that after we get this one going, we'll start other ones in different areas that really need it," Trowbridge said.
Hildegard House's services are free of charge. The charitable organization is funded entirely by donations. It is still in need of volunteers and donations. To help, click here or call (502) 581-5267.
Hildegard House is located at 114 Adams Street in the Butchertown neighborhood of Louisville.
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