Hospice has many to thank for new ‘House’

Published 3:12 pm Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Joseph Phayer, project manager for Hospice House, said it would take too long to recognize all those involved in the project.

&dquo;My job was supposed to be to thank all the people who worked on this project and helped us,&dquo; he said at the 10 a.m. ceremony Monday. &dquo;I started drawing up a list and it was obvious after a while that we would be here until noon time if everyone had to be mentioned.&dquo;

Few key people

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Phayer took the time instead to recognize just a few instrumental people, including architect John Walters of Tryon.

&dquo;We had done some work previously on this project. We did some drawings, but we never could quite make it fit to what we wanted. There always was something wrong with our design,&dquo; he said. &dquo;We showed it to John and he came back in a couple of weeks, and showed us a layout, and what you see today is what he showed us at that time.&dquo;

Phayer explained that Hospice of the Carolina Foothills chose Hyder Construction for site preparation after having worked with Hyder previously for the Hospice adminstration building in Columbus.

Harper Construction was selected as the contractor for construction.

&dquo;My concern was that they might be too small for this project. I found out later that they were worried about us, whether we had enough money for this project,&dquo; said Phayer. &dquo;I tell you I can&squo;t praise Harper enough.&dquo;

Phayer also recognized Dawn Carter, Anna Converse and Alicia Stern for their work.

He said Carter guided Hospice through the process of submitting a certificate of need for Hospice House to the state and gaining permission to proceed. Converse provided interior design services as she did for the Hospice administration building, and Stern has worked on the Hospice House project for three years, filling numerous duties.

Jean Eckert, the executive director of Hospice of the Carolina Foothills, says it&squo;s because of the work of the people mentioned by Phayer and many others &dquo;that I am still able to stand here today.&dquo;

She added that the generosity of many people across the community is the reason why Hospice House stands today. She expressed gratitude on behalf of&bsp; Hospice staff and volunteers.

&dquo;We welcome you to our dream,&dquo; she said. &dquo;What happened here is not a &squo;build it and they will come&squo; scenario.&bsp; What happened here is the patients and families we serve, they were here, and the community built this Hospice House for them.&dquo;

Hospice plans to have the new Fairwinds Road facility fully licensed and operational and start taking patients by the beginning of March. An open house for the community is scheduled for March 31.

Smith Phayer House

Eckert also took time Monday to recognize the two people whose names will be permanently associated with the Hospice House ‐ Phayer and Hospice board chairman Ron Smith.

Hospice offered numerous naming opportunities for anyone who wanted to sponsor a room, wing or even the entire building. Many people sponsored rooms, including patient rooms, meeting rooms, offices, a family lounge, children&squo;s area, a staff break room and even mechanical service rooms.

The round chapel was made possible by contributions from more than 90 churches in the area. Even the wood table that stands in the chapel was a donation, the handiwork of Rev. Michael Doty of Holy Cross Episcopal Church in Tryon.

The Thomas M. Connell Atrium was donated by the Connell Family and a bronze sculpture to be done by reknowned artist Will Behrends&bsp; for the center of the atrium was commissioned by Bill and Fay Wuehrmann.

The building&squo;s three wings were also named. The Steinbach Service Wing is named in memory of G. Mildred Steinbach. The Gouaux Resident Wing is named in memory of Shirley K. Gouaux, and the Noyes Administration Wing is named in memory of Ruth and Julian Noyes.

But no one took the opportunity to name the building. So the Hospice board decided last week, at the direction of vice chair Bill Jenks, to give that honor to Phayer and Smith, unbeknown to them.

&dquo;Anyone familiar with this Hospice is familiar with the name of Ron Smith and Joe Phayer,&dquo; said Eckert.

She said Smith, a retired Wall Street bond trader, has been with the Hospice board since 1993 and has been chairman of the board since 1996. He spearheaded the campaign in 2000 and 2001 that raised $1.35 million to build the administration and program center in Columbus.

Smith also raised awareness of the Hospice House project and the $5.5 million needed for the building.

Eckert said Phayer, a retired Exxon engineer, joined the Hospice board in 1988. In that year, Hospice served just 25 patients, while today it serves over 300 a year.

Phayer has continuously volunteered for Hospice as a patient companion or board member, and sometimes did both simultaneously. He also served as a volunteer project manager for the Columbus administration building.

&dquo;Ron and Joe have an arrangement that works,&dquo; said Eckert. &dquo;A long time ago, Ron said, &squo;Listen, Joe, I&squo;ll get the money, you build the building. I won&squo;t ask you any questions, you don&squo;t ask me any questions. And it worked.&dquo;

She noted that the two &dquo;remarkable&dquo; men have provided a combined 37 years of service to Hospice of the Carolina Foothills.

Smith also spoke at the ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday, expressing gratitude to the many people who contributed to Hospice House.

Like Phayer, he noted that it would be impossible to recognize everyone, even among the crowd that gathered at the ceremony on Monday.

&dquo;If I missed anyone or if I missed any organization, please accept my sincere apology, it was not intention. If I didn&squo;t miss anyone or make any mistakes, please consider that a minor miracle,&dquo; he said. &dquo;And speaking of miracles, I want to again thank all of you who supported this project and who gave their time, their energy, their thoughts and their prayers to the success of this project.&dquo;The chapel at the Hospice House.Patient room