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Remodeled Kitchen Proves More Inviting for Hospice Families and Volunteers

Cooking his specialty – a spaghetti dinner – was one patient’s way to say “I love you” to his family. With a little help in the kitchen, he cooked that meal to show his gratitude for the staff and his care for the other patients of Benefis Peace Hospice of Montana.

benefis peace hospice of montana kitchen remodel

That dinner was one of the recent special memories made in the hospice house’s kitchen, a hub in the residential facility for terminally ill patients.

The kitchen is where volunteers hustle to get hot meals onto plates for patients. It’s where families gather to laugh, to cry, to take a breath, to make plans, and even to prepare a loved one’s favorite dishes. It’s where volunteers make special holiday dinners. It’s a touch of home, beauty, and comfort.

“When patients are ill, the smells and the environment of the kitchen make a huge difference,” said Vicki Robinson, Peace Hospice Director. “If patients are able to come in, it’s like home with friendly volunteers to interact with.”

–Vicki Robinson, Peace Hospice Director

Thanks to generous donors, Benefis Peace Hospice of Montana has a newly remodeled kitchen.

The remodel included installing new commercial-grade kitchen appliances, a new pantry, an updated food prep area, better lighting, an expanded countertop for plating patients’ meals, new seating, and a self-serve area – the “Angel Bar” – for coffee and snacks.

Robinson said one of the immediate results of the remodel is more people gathering in the homey kitchen/dining area.

“It’s comforting for people,” she said.

The addition of plate warmers helps volunteers serve meals hot for patients who may be slow to eat, volunteer Jim Capp said.

The newly done kitchen doesn’t get so hot in the summer, and the dishes zip through the washing process now, Capp said. Volunteers no longer are stumbling over each other thanks to a better organized space.

The next project planned for Peace Hospice is a “sending room.” That’s where loved ones say goodbye as a patient’s body is received by the funeral home. A small sign over the door to the outside reads, “Sending you with eternal peace and love.”

The room will be a repurposing of an atrium at the end of a hallway. The driveway already is in place and is designed so other patients and their families won’t see the hearse. The staff wants to add doors to make the space more private for the grieving.

“Our staff is really good at paying attention to those kinds of things,” Hospice Nurse Donna Franko said. “This is better. It offers more privacy for the families and easier for other patients.”