WFSU News · Tallahassee · Panama City · Thomasville
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
WFSU Local News

Big Bend Hospice Breaks Ground On New Family Center


Big Bend Hospice has been caring for the region’s terminal and end of life patients since 1983, supported by its own not-for-profit foundation and community partners, now it’s getting ready to expand. Florida State Senator Bill Montford spoke about the facility’s three-decade long reputation for compassionate care at the ground-breaking ceremony Tuesday.

“I happen to have been in a position to have worked with a lot of families and it was always my pleasure and it was an honor, quite frankly, to be able to tell them about Big Bend Hospice, especially if they had a life-limiting illness that they were addressing. That this is a place you can go, this is a place where you will be treated as a family,” Montford said.

The hospice facility is made up of a couple of buildings, one that houses its volunteers and staff, and another building for patients who live at the hospice under the watchful eye of its nurses. But, that space has gotten cramped in recent years and Nigel Allen, Executive Director of the Hospice Foundation, said the organization wants more room to better accommodate patients and their families. So, five years ago they started planning a new family center.

“When you have patients who are actively dying, many, many family members will converge from all different areas of town and the country to be there and what we found is we simply don’t have enough space where those families can appropriately gather, process what they’re going through, grieve in the privacy and the intimacy that is appropriate,” Allen remarked.

The new building will include more beds and feature state-of-the-art instruments like bed-side oxygen machines, to help take better care of patients. It’ll also have an expanded family area and more space to accommodate volunteers and bereavement services. Hospice officials are dedicating the new facility to Jean McCully, who’s been with the hospice since its inception. She helped start the care facility from the ground and officials say she’s both an important benefactor and volunteer. But, she didn’t take any credit for it.

“I don’t feel I really deserve that name on the hospice house, all of you do and I appreciate everything you’ve done to help us raise the money to build [Big Bend] Hospice to be the best hospice in this community,” McCully said.

Nigel Allen, Hospice Foundation Director, says he rarely disagrees with McCully, but says if anyone deserves to have their name enshrined on the new family center it’s her. The Jean McCully Family Center, at Big Bend Hospice will begin construction this June and is estimated to be finished a little less than a year later.