Many local officials and residents were on hand for the ceremonial opening of Alexian Brothers Health System's hospice residence in Elk Grove Village Friday afternoon.
The $7.5 million, 19,150-square-foot facility took just over a year to build and has 16 patient rooms.
The new building also features common rooms for patients' families in a homelike setting that includes a library, kitchen and rec rooms. Patient rooms will have space for loved ones to sleep over if they choose to.
Alexian Brothers Health System CEO Mark Frey said the religious order of the Alexian Brothers has long been associated with end-of-life care, having been formed in the 14th century in part to assist plague victims.
"This is so consistent with who we are," he said of the new facility Friday.
Alexian Brothers did a feasibility study for a hospice in 2006, but construction didn't become possible until the organization was approached by its major financial donor, Dominic Mangone.
Mangone is a private equity investor and chairman of the Alexian Brothers Foundation executive board. He was himself a hospice volunteer for many years, which taught him a lot about the importance of end-of-life care.
"Obviously today is a big, big day for me," Mangone told Friday's ribbon-cutting audience. "I am a very happy man."
Even though the building is complete, Mangone said keeping it running will require ongoing fundraising.
Residents who can afford to contribute will be asked to pay a fee, but no one will be turned away due to an inability to pay, officials said.
Because many patients will be on Medicare or have financial issues, the residence may need as much as $300,000 from outside donations each year, Mangone said. But he is confident donors will be interested in keeping such an enterprise going.
The length of stay and level of care residents will require will differ in each case. Some patients may live there for just the last seven to 10 days of life, while others may be there for longer periods as long as they meet the hospice criteria of a life expectancy no greater than six months, said Kathleen Gunderson, Alexian Brothers' vice president of ancillary services.
Construction began on the facility in June 2012 and it is the only faith-based hospice residence in the Chicago area, Gunderson said.
The unique nature of the facility means it will probably draw its clientele from farther away than the nearby Alexian Brothers Medical Center does, Frey said.