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Home at last: Sunshine Hospitality Home to open Monday

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Opening Monday, July 9, 2018, the Sunshine Hospitality Home will provide accommodations for people who come to the area for medical appointments or to be close to family members who are hospitalized. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald2 / 6
Artworks created by local artists are featured throughout every corner and level at the Sunshine Hospitality Home in Grand Forks, which opens Monday, July 9, 2018. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald3 / 6
Katie Edvall (right), interim manager of the Sunshine Hospitality Home, walks through the facility with Theresa Carlson (left), CEO of the Sunshine Memorial Foundation, and Altru Hospital's Sally Grosgebauer on Tuesday, July 3, 2018. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald4 / 6
The Sunshine Hospitality Home in Grand Forks not only provides accomodations for patients receiving medical care at Altru Hospital as well as their families, the facility also offers areas such as this art and music room to promote all aspects of healing. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald5 / 6
Katie Edvall, interim manager for the Sunshine Hospitality Home, walks through one of the rooms which will be available to people seeking medical care in the community as well as their families on Tuesday, July 3, 2018. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald6 / 6

Everything you need and want at home can be found in the new facility that opens next week for those who come to Grand Forks for medical care.

The Sunshine Hospitality Home, which is open to guests beginning Monday, will provide accommodations for people who come here for medical appointments—with Altru Health System and other health care providers—or to be close to family members who are hospitalized here.

They would be referred to the home by a medical professional or a social worker, said Katie Edvall, interim manager of the facility, which is a few blocks west of Altru Hospital on 11th Avenue.

"We want it to be like home, and have an inviting feeling," Edvall said.

From comfortable sleeping quarters to the fully stocked kitchen to laundry facilities to computer access, the facility features fulfill the needs of people who must be away from home for health reasons.

Its "day rooms" can also be used as a place for patients "to land between multiple appointments," Edvall said.

The 18,000-square-foot, three-story building has the capacity to house up to 20,000 individuals every year, said Theresa Carlson, who, as CEO of the Sunshine Memorial Foundation, led the campaign to fund the $4.5 million project. Construction on the home began last summer.

With its 14 sleeping rooms, the home can shelter 64 guests each evening, Carlson said.

It's open to people of all ages and all medical conditions, she said.

The cost is $40 per night for sleeping rooms or areas that are designed to accommodate from two to six guests, she said.

Financial assistance is available for those who cannot afford that cost. Eligibility is based on household income levels and the number of people who live in the household, information that is gathered in the registration process, Edvall said.

"It's based off of the federal poverty guidelines," she said.

Ownership of the facility is being transferred from the Sunshine Memorial Foundation to Altru Health System, Carlson said.

Amenities

The reception area may resemble that of a hotel, but "we'll be more hospitable," Edvall said.

Staff members will welcome and register guests, show them around, and personally escort them to their rooms.

A large kitchen on each floor is equipped "with pots and pans, and all the gadgets you use at home," Edvall said.

Guests purchase their own groceries, make their own meals and do their own laundry.

Laundry facilities are stocked with soap and dryer sheets, and bedding and towels are provided.

In the business center, guests can use computers "to pay bills or check emails or go on to Caring Bridge," Edvall said. The home offers free WiFi.

The non-denominational "faith room" is available for meditation or meeting with clergy members.

A fitness room is equipped with exercise equipment, and an art and music room has a keyboard and string instruments and art supplies.

"Music and dog therapies will be incorporated" into the function of the home, Edvall said.

Families can also relax together in the game and toy room.

Community spaces, with the comforts of a living room, have TVs and fireplaces and are meant to encourage people to get together and support one another, which helps the healing process, Edvall said.

Outside, the facility features patios and porches, with seating and tables, for relaxation or enjoying a meal.

Nearby are "Sertoma Park, the Japanese Garden and English Coulee, so it's a nice setting," Edvall said.

A daughter remembered

The home is the dream of Van and Dee Larson, longtime Grand Forks residents who established a foundation to honor the memory of their daughter, Shannon—whose nickname was "Sunshine"—who died at age 31 as a result of dehydration while hiking in Arizona.

The facility was planned and developed to meet a need in the community, Carlson said.

People who were visiting loved ones in the hospital were sleeping in cars or in hospital lobbies, she said.

The first of its kind here, the project has attracted donations from 5,000 area businesses and individuals, about 3,500 of whom gave $500 or less, Carlson said.

Many businesses either donated, or provided at reduced cost, services, materials or furnishings—at a value approaching "a couple million dollars," Carlson said.

Fundraising teams were based in Minnesota's Roseau County and North Dakota's Lake Region, Larimore, Northwood-Hatton communities and Walsh, Pembina and Nelson counties.

Each sought pledges to secure naming rights for specific areas in the facility.

Donations of any level are still being accepted, Carlson said. If interested, call (701) 780-5600 or toll-free (800) 732-4277 ext. 5600, or email foundation@altru.org.

Welcome addition

The Sunshine Hospitality Home "has been very well received across Grand Forks and the region," not only by Altru physicians but the medical staffs of other health providers in the area, Edvall said.

"It's a good resource for people to have a place to stay, and for people who are here for a long stay, to feel they're more at home and very comfortable," she said. "It will really help with their healing.

"It's a very welcoming and warm home."

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