Nineteen leading Baton Rouge designers and businesses joined forces earlier this year to transform a home located just outside the gates of LSU for the 11th Decorators’ Show Home. All proceeds benefited the Patient Care Fund of the Hospice of Baton Rouge (HBR), the only nonprofit United Way hospice agency in the Baton Rouge community. More than half of the businesses have participated since the first one was held. “Everyone agreed that this was the best Decorators’ Show Home ever,” says HBR’s CEO, Kathryn Grigsby.
The funds ensure that anyone needing hospice services from HBR will receive them regardless of their financial resources. They also support the organization’s Butterfly Wing, the only CHAP accredited in-patient hospice unit in the area. (CHAP is an independent, nonprofit accrediting body that defines and advances the highest standards of community-based care.)
The three-story Georgian-style residence that was used for the Decorators’ Show Home had been on the market for two years when the owners very graciously made it available for the fundraiser, according to Grigsby. The house was built by a professor from LSU.
The stunning home, situated on a three-and-a-half-acre lot, contains formal living and dining rooms, both of which have arched fanlight French doors that open to the expansive gallery, which is shaded by historic live oaks. The original masonry fireplace and hand-hewn cypress beams add interest to the restored kitchen and keeping area. The sunroom, library, wine room, and lady’s powder room complete the downstairs. Every window of the five-bedroom home provides beautiful views of live oaks and camellias.
“A significantly historic home, it is located on a really high point in Baton Rouge, and the back lawn slopes down to a small pond that has a bridge similar to the one found at Monet’s Giverny in France,” Grigsby says. The pond is surrounded by native purple iris and various water lilies that bloom throughout the spring, which is when the open house was held earlier this year.
Many of the designers and businesses that donated their time and talents to the 11th Decorators’ Show Home have been featured in magazines, including Southern Living, House Beautiful, Veranda, Louisiana Homes and Gardens, Coastal Living, and Southern Accents.
Participants that donated their services included Ty Larkins Interiors, Anne McCanless Interiors, Beth Allee Interiors, Bienville Custom Framing, McMillin Interiors, Bruce Givens Foreman, Michael and Cati Hardy of By Design, Custom Linens, Dana Oatley Brown (Beth Levine), Designers III, Dixon Smith Interiors, Helaine Moyse ASID Interior Design, Kevin LeBlanc Design, Nancy Zito Interiors, Nolan-Kimble Interiors Inc., Rogers and McDaniel, Laura Roland at Fireside Antiques, and Ryan Cole Landscape Design and Consulting.
Through the sale of tickets to the 20-day viewing of the Decorators’ Show Home, plus the preview gala and live action, a wine and cheese party, and numerous sponsorships, HBR raised a significant amount of money that added to the Patient Care Fund. It is the most important fundraiser of the year for HBR, which was established in 1984. HBR provides care in eight parishes within a 50-mile radius of Baton Rouge, including East and West Baton Rouge, Livingston, Iberville, Ascension, East and West Feliciana, and portions of Point Coupee.
HBR provided end-of-life care education to over 11,000 community members and healthcare professionals through seminars, workshops, advanced directive materials, community presentations, and bereavement support. HBR’s new educational website designed for patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals offers comprehensive information on serious illness and available resources.
Grigsby, who has been active in the organization for the past 24 years, explains that the mission of HBR is to provide end-of-life care and support at home or in a home-like setting to patients and their loved ones. “The whole purpose of the fundraiser is to generate funds to help cover those patients who have nonfunded patient care.
We care for anyone, regardless of their ability to pay,” she says. “We make sure that loved ones are given the gift of dying with dignity, pain-free. One of our specialties is pain management. For instance, if someone tells us that their physician has given them six months, we admit the patient the same day with physicians orders, and we buy their supplies and equipment, and are available 24 hours a day.”
Volunteers for HBR include professionals from all walks of life, from beauticians to social workers and chaplains, Grigsby notes. Volunteer chaplains are often asked to conduct the final services for those who have passed on who were not affiliated with a particular church. “Nine out of 10 people don’t even know about hospice care until they are told about it,” Grigsby points out. “Where most of the many for-profit hospice agencies use LPNs, every one of our patients has an RN.” Grigsby says that out of the 160 hospices in Louisiana, only 11 are nonprofit.
“Fortunately, we are very sound financially,” she adds. HBR is the only nonprofit hospice in the Baton Rouge area. “The for-profit hospices with stockholders are very profit-driven, which affects the care of the patients. It is a hugely competitive field that is currently under a national investigation,” she points out.
“We have an amazing staff of volunteers,” Grigsby reflects. “They do everything from direct care to simple, ancillary things such as running errands and cooking meals for families. We also have in-patient care at the Butterfly Wing. Our youngest child is three days old, and our oldest adult is 108 years old. We had the first pediatric hospice program in Louisiana.”
The Butterfly Wing, which opened in November, provides short-term supervised care for patients with acute needs. Patients are eligible for the general in-patient level of care when round-the-clock care is necessary to manage pain and control symptoms or treatments that are difficult to oversee at home. It provides the same full range of medical, emotional, social, and spiritual services that HBR’s home care patients receive, but in a setting that permits more intensive monitoring. “It is a warm, welcoming place that is a home away from home,” Grigsby points out.
“Something new happens every week,” Grigsby adds. “Every one of us knows that no matter how bad our day has been, we have made a difference for someone, somehow.