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Covenant Care Opens Inpatient Hospice Center At Sacred Heart Hospital

Linda Dunwoody
Sacred Heart Health System

The Pensacola community now has a new option for end of life care for seriously ill patients and their families with the opening of the Covenant Care Inpatient Hospice Center at Sacred Heart Hospital.

“When you look around, all I can say is wow,” said Covenant Care President and CEO Jeff Mislevy, referring to the new hospice center and the crowd of supporters gathered for the recent ribbon cutting.

“It’s very few times in one’s career or even one’s life that you know with absolute certainty that you’re about to do something that’s [going to] change people’s lives, and that’s what we’re doing here.”

Already, Covenant Care provides inpatient hospice service in the region, including units at West Florida Hospital and the Joyce Goldenberg Residence in Pensacola. Mislevy says establishing such a facility at Sacred Heart, one of Covenant’s original founders, has been decades in the making.

“So for us to have these partnerships, and it’s not that we haven’t had we haven’t enjoyed an incredible partnership with Sacred Heart with community hospice delivery,” Mislevy said, pointing out that to date they they’ve never had an inpatient program at this level and type of dedication. “So for this to now happen finally after, and I think I did the math, after about 34 years of the Covenant-Sacred Heart partnership, really is a long-time dream coming true.”

Credit Linda Dunwoody / Sacred Heart Health System
Sacred Heart Health System
An adult room at the new Covenant Care Inpatient Hospice Center at Sacred Heart.

The 10,000 square foot Center is located on the first floor of Sacred Heart, the result of a $2.5 million renovation of existing space, with access to courtyards and gardens, and convenience to the cafeteria and other amenities.

It will consist of 17 patient rooms that feature coastal décor and a comfortable, home-like environment for patients and their guests.

The bright lights, the light colors, really just the level of respect and the attention to detail was an important part of this process,” said Mislevy recalling his own experiences with family members looking at the stain in the ceiling tile or the piece of tile coming up in the corner.

“You know, just in that moment, you remember your surroundings and we wanted to make sure there wasn’t a single detail overlooked that people remembered from that moment.”

“And, one of the first rooms we went into was this little room on the right, which is set up for children,” said Henry Stovall, president of Sacred Heart Hospital.

He described his own private tour of the new inpatient hospice center before the grand-opening festivities. Depicted on the wall of the room is the phrase, “Love you to the moon and back.”

Credit Linda Dunwoody / Sacred Heart Health System
Sacred Heart Health System
Decoration on the wall of one of the children's rooms at the Covenant Care Inpatient Hospice Center at Sacred Heart.

“And just in that one little moment, grown man, I’m gonna tell you, I teared up. It moved me that much.”

Stovall says he can’t imagine a project that Sacred Heart has undertaken that is more consistent with their mission, vision, and values during their 100 years of serving the healthcare needs of the community.

“And, in our faith and for what we stand for, the end of life is very, very important,” Stovall said. “Adherence to God’s will, for that portion of our life; respect, dignity, those are key pieces to us and we take them very seriously.”

The new Covenant Inpatient Hospice Center will offer a continuum of specialized and individual care 24-hours-a-day, with an onsite medical director, clinical manager and an interdisciplinary team of RNs, LPNs, social workers, and hospice aids. 

During the grand opening, Father Tom Koyickal from Sacred Heart's Pastoral Care Department offered a blessing for the center and the dying individuals who will spend their last days there.

“We pray Lord, the physicians and nurses who work here will extend to them the care and love that they deserve.”

The center officially opens on this Friday, September 1 and will begin accepting patients Tuesday, September 5.

Sandra Averhart has been News Director at WUWF since 1996. Her first job in broadcasting was with (then) Pensacola radio station WOWW107-FM, where she worked 11 years. Sandra, who is a native of Pensacola, earned her B.S. in Communication from Florida State University.