Because of the increasing need for hospice house beds, Hospice of Marion County closed its Memory Care Center and reopened it as The Tuscany House, a state-of-the-art facility. The project converted the conventional residence into a one-of-a-kind hospice house that offers families a serene environment when facing life’s most difficult passage. No detail was spared in meeting family needs in an environment that does not look or feel like a medical facility.

The goal was to remodel the existing structure and maximize use of space, staff efficiency, and comfort for families. Walls were removed and eight units closed to create spacious, nonclinical-appearing nursing stations that serve 10 suites and 14 private rooms. Each wing is monitored by a nursing-to-patient ratio of 1:4, so more time is spent at the bedside. Although the facility provides a high level of care, no apparatus is visible. Even the Hill-Rom hospital beds are disguised by custom-designed, cherry-wood frames.

The authentic Tuscan theme includes not only the architecture, but also the lighting, detailing, furnishings, and fountains. Families feel as if they’ve entered the coziness of a bed and breakfast rather then a sterile medical facility. Other amenities include: lighted art-therapy ceiling murals, Sirius sound, Skype live videoconferencing, plasma TVs, kitchenettes, hydrotherapy, wireless call system, gardens, common areas, private family room, a full 250-kW back-up generator, and seven-day food/water supply.

Project category: Remodel/Renovation (completed September 2006)

Chief administrator: Alice J. Privett, President/CEO, (352) 873-7400

Firm: Johnson, Peoples Architects, PA, (352) 351-1963

Design team: Ted Smith, Principal Architect and Senior Project Designer (Johnson, Peoples Architects, PA); Carolyn Jennings, Chief Decorator (Carolyn Jennings Design); Sheri Walters, Assistant Director, Hospice Houses; Debbie Norton, Coordinator, The Tuscany House; Bill Kauffman, Chief Financial Officer (Hospice of Marion County); Bruce Chancellor, Facilities Maintenance Coordinator (The Tuscany House)

Photography: Jay Abramson

Total building area (sq. ft.): 19,907

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $77

Total construction cost (excluding land): $1,537,393