Aspirus plans to offer home to families in health crises

Photo provided by Aspirus Aspirus has announced plans to create a family home near its Wausau hospital for those traveling long distances and need a temporary home while being treated. The eight Aspirus hospitals in Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula have committed $2.5 million toward the $4.5 million project, with another $1.9 million from donors in the Aspirus and medical community. The family house will begin serving guests in January 2020.

WAUSAU, Wis. — Earlier this year, Aspirus announced plans to create a family house across the street from Aspirus Wausau Hospital to provide a temporary home for patients traveling to Wausau to receive critical medical care, and their families dealing with loved ones’ hospital treatment.

This includes patients and families all across the Upper Peninsula who are patients with Aspirus hospitals in Ontonagon, Calumet and Marquette and surrounding areas.

“Many of the patients and families who must travel a great distance to receive specialty medical care at Aspirus in Wausau cannot afford housing,” Kalynn Pempek, executive director of Aspirus Health Foundation and volunteer services in Wausau. “The people who need help with housing are proud and don’t ask for help.”

Many times family members are traumatized by a family member’s injury or illness, Pempek said, and fear leaving the hospital campus in an unfamiliar city.

“This includes patients traveling for long-term outpatient care such as cancer care,” she said, “as well as families whose loved ones are hospitalized.”

The current ENT (Ears, Nose and Throat) & Allergy Associates building, located on the corner of 28th Avenue and Westhill Drive, will be purchased and renovated.

Construction is scheduled to start July 2019, and the Family House will begin serving guests in January 2020.

The Aspirus Family House will include 10 bedrooms with shared living spaces, designed as a home-like environment “conducive to healing and support from our community and others going through similar health experiences,” Pempek said.

The Family House will be different from a hotel, said Aspirus spokesman Andrew Krauss. Patients and families will be referred by physicians, social workers, referral coordinators and other Aspirus team members, based on need factors such as financial, distance traveled, degree of illness, duration of treatment and other considerations.

Guests of the Family House will be served by staff, volunteers and community groups.

A donation of $35 per night per room will be suggested for guests staying in the Family House, but no guests will be denied a stay there based on the inability to make a donation.