Respite House groundbreaking

People throw a little dirt at the groundbreaking ceremony for St. Luke’s Respite House in Fruitland on July 18. Holding shovels, from left, are Randy Jensen, Ange Goodwin, Judy Boyle, Prudi Sherman, Evelyn Dame, Bob Quinn, Shellie Colvard, Dr. Sarah Bolender, Lt. Gov. Brad Little and Ralph Poole. Except for Lt. Gov. Little, they are all members of the St. Luke’s Fruitland Community Council.

More than six years worth of efforts to build a place for cancer patients to stay and rest while getting treatments in Fruitland was celebrated July 18, as a ceremony marked the beginning of construction of such a facility.

A small crowd of people braved the heat for the groundbreaking ceremony for Respite House. The home away from home is for cancer patients getting treatment at St. Luke’s Mountain States Tumor Institute in Fruitland.

The Respite House will provide a place for patients who have to travel long distances to stay while getting their treatments. The alternative is having to travel back and forth between their homes and the clinic, according to a news release from St. Luke’s.

“They need an affordable and welcoming place to rest and recover so they don’t have to worry about winter roads and driving when they feel sick, said Dr. Sarah Bolender, MSTI Fruitland medical director. “This is a dream

come true.”

At the beginning of the ceremony Fruitland Mayor Brian Howell announced the City Council had voted not to charge St. Luke’s for the building permits issued by the city for the construction, which amounted to about $5,000.

“Patients need a place to stay after cancer treatment. Patients are often too ill to travel,” said Randy Jensen, Fruitland Community Council Board chairman, in his introductory speech. “It’s a great, great day.”

Also attending the event was Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little, who, in his remarks commented about the challenges of traveling during the heavy snows of early 2017.

“This is so important,” Little said, of the facility which will be constructed.

The amenities of the one-story Respite House will include private bedrooms and bathrooms that are wheelchair-accessible, a living room, central kitchen and dining room, a library, an RV parking area, picnic tables and a patio with grill.

Cost of the new facility is $1.6 million, and community members and organizations, such as Surviving Hearts, worked more than six years to raise $1.129 million to get the project started.

“More than 350 people, groups, companies and foundations came together and made the St. Luke’s Respite House a priority,” said Mark Parkinson, administrator for St. Luke’s MSTI, in a statement in the news release.

“From bowling to bunco to barbecues, this truly has been a grassroot campaign.”

The Respite House is expected to open in the spring of 2019.


Larry Meyer is a reporter for the Argus Observer.

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