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(Janesville) By Shelly Birkelo, Gazette

An anonymous donation of $2 million will allow Agrace hospice care to break ground Tuesday on a $6.5 million facility.

The gift announced Thursday brings the total raised to $4.3 million for the Agrace Center for Hospice & Palliative Care to be built on five acres at Sandhill Drive and Wright Road on the city’s northeast side.

A public campaign to raise the remaining $2.2 million will begin now, and a ceremonial ground breaking is planned for 11 a.m. Tuesday at the new site, 2901 N. Wright Road. Construction of the 21,000-square-foot facility is expected to take 10 months and open in summer 2014.

The facility will include 12 inpatient suites for acute care along with space for clinical home care operations, bereavement groups, staff and volunteer training, community education and outreach.

Agrace is a local nonprofit that has been providing end-of-life care and related services to people in southern Wisconsin for 35 years.

“This is a wonderful gift to the Janesville community that will allow Agrace to meet growing demand for hospice services and an immediate need for inpatient hospice beds in Rock County,” Agrace CEO Lynne Myers said.

“Once construction is complete, this center will ensure that anyone in Janesville and surrounding communities who needs our compassionate, high-quality care will receive it,” she said.

The new facility will be funded through community support and donations to the Agrace Foundation.

Agrace’s annual events in Rock County will support ongoing programs in the center. This will include the Sips and Sounds wine tasting event and the Golf Classic golf outing. Agrace will explore spreading the word about the capital campaign through mailings and events, Myers said.

Agrace began raising money in October 2011 to build a 17,000-square-foot, $5.5 million facility and announced half of the money needed to be pledged before Agrace would break ground.

A public campaign was set to launch in the spring 2012, but the project was delayed and the campaign was extended to allow Agrace to continue to raise funds.

Agrace added $1 million and 4,000 square feet to the project for the addition of the 12-inpatient suites, said Liz Kopling, director of marketing and communications.

Agrace re-evaluated its services in the Rock County area in 2012. Demographic and trend data convinced the organization of the need for inpatient hospice beds, she said.

Factors driving the decision, Kopling said, included:

-- A growing need and demand for hospice services. Agrace has served 2,500 patients in the last five years.

-- The large number of aging baby boomers and a shortage in family caregivers—both creating a greater need for professional home hospice care.

-- The need for access to inpatient care when pain and symptoms cannot be managed at home.

-- The lack of any other inpatient hospice facility within 35 miles of Janesville.

Agrace operates out of two offices: one in Madison and the other in Janesville.

Agrace’s Janesville office is in an 11,000-square-foot building at 3001 W. Memorial Drive. That building will be sold, and proceeds will go toward the new facility, Kopling said.

J.P. Cullen & Sons, Janesville, will serve as the general contractor.

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