MARQUETTE - The Omega House of Houghton has served more than 10 years as a place for the terminally ill to live fully in their last days. Inspired by this, individuals in Marquette are now striving to model a new hospice facility after the Omega House.
Omega, which houses between 8 and 10 patients, provides a residential, homelike environment and offers physical, emotional and spiritual support to it's patients.
"A couple of years ago I got in the car and drove up to Omega House," Daniel Mazzuchi explained. "There was a sense of privacy and quiet beauty about it... I was just overcome when I saw it."
Pictured is an exterior view of Omega House in Houghton. The hospice facility has been serving terminally-ill patients for more than 10 years. A new organization is working to model a similar facility in Marquette called the Trillium House. (Photo courtesy of Omega House)
Mazzuchi is a volunteer with Lake Superior Hospice in Marquette. It is his belief, and the belief of many he has spoken with, that Marquette should establish a facility like Omega House, which would incorporate both Lake Superior Hospice and U.P. Home Health Hospice and Private Duty.
"When I saw Omega House I couldn't help thinking "'This is how it should be done,'" Mazzuchi said.
About 40 percent of the operating income at Omega is generated by small donations. What is significant about the facility, Mazzuchi noted, is the sense of pride and ownership the community has taken upon itself.
"They've never hired someone for the kitchen, it's all volunteers... The depth of volunteerism in that place just blew me away."
Deciding this was something Marquette needed. Mazzuchi began conversing with groups and individuals who, like him, believe in the possibilities of creating a hospice facility like Omega.
Mazzuchi, along with Jeff Nyquist, CEO of UPHHH and Carol Carr, CEO of Lake Superior Hospice, put together a team of board members. They have already held one meeting and come up with a name for the future facility: Trillium House.
"Theoretically, Trillium will house about eight people, with hopes that we can expand that number in the future," Mazzuchi said.
Trillium House would have to follow federal rules when deciding who is and is not eligible for hospice care. Mazzuchi added that as often happens, a person may at first have a life expectancy of six months, but then recover while in hospice, therefore leaving them ineligible to remain in hospice.
"We tell those individuals, "'You no longer meet the requirements to stay, but we will remain in touch with you and if things get worse, you can always come back.'"
The board is working to establish itself as a 501 C3 organization. They hope to begin fundraising within six months and will be seeking grants and donations.
"What is important in the coming months is anticipation and community awareness," Mazzuchi emphasized. "I don't know how this will be received by the community, but we would hope it would be very-well received. There are a lot of people whose lives have been touched by hospice."
Abbey Hauswirth can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 240.