Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care (VNHC) celebrated the grand opening of its new hospice inpatient facility, Serenity House, this week with several receptions honoring donors and local leaders for their ongoing support of the community-funded building project.

The new Serenity House will offer patients and their families a residential, home-like setting in natural surroundings where they’ll receive high-quality and individualized around-the-clock care from a team of specially trained doctors, nurses, medical social workers, spiritual counselors, hospice aides and volunteers that support emotional, spiritual and physical needs at the end of life.

“The New Serenity House will offer patients and their families the needed support and comfort during what is often a difficult and sad time in their lives,” said Assemblymember Das Williams, representative of the 35th Assembly District.

“The extra beds this facility provides will be critical in delivering additional hospice care in the Santa Barbara region and we’re very lucky to have such an incredible resource in our community,” Senator Tony Strickland said.

As the only licensed hospice inpatient care provider in Santa Barbara County, VNHC found its existing 6-bed facility could no longer adequately satisfy the demand for hospice care in the community. Between 2008 and 2009 alone, Serenity House saw a 71% increase in the number of patients served and often, a waiting list of 10 or more people awaiting care.

In order to meet the increasing demand for quality end-of-life care, VNHC embarked on an ambitious capital campaign to fund an expanded hospice facility. By the end of 2007, community members had donated over $8 million to fund the project and with additional support from a large bequest, the medical nonprofit was ready to move forward with plans to build a new Serenity House.

“Thanks to an outpouring of support from this unique community, we were able to raise enough money to cover the entire cost of design and construction for the new facility,” said Lynda Tanner, president and chief executive officer for VNHC.

“Their incredible generosity and commitment to VNHC’s charitable mission allowed us to build Serenity House with no construction loans or debt and we can now focus all of our efforts and attention on providing the best end-of-life care possible,” she said.

Frank Schipper Construction broke ground on the new approximately 27,300 square foot facility in 2009 following a careful planning and design process led by PMSM Architects who oversaw every detail of the building and its surrounding campus.

Each private room is equipped with a bed, flat screen TV, comfortable upholstered chair, closet, refrigerator, spacious ADA approved (Americans with Disabilities Act) bathroom, and its own outdoor patio with sweeping views of Santa Barbara’s lush hillsides.

“Our goal was to create an inviting yet medically advanced built environment where patients and their families felt like they were in the comfort of their own homes,” said Kristin Story, principal architect at PMSM.

“From the therapeutic whirlpool spa and full commercial kitchen to a quiet meditation room and outdoor fireplace, every aspect of the design focused on providing elements of comfort, dignity and peace,” she said.

The new Serenity House has been named a Built Green Santa Barbara two star facility, demonstrating a commitment to the latest practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions.

“Serenity House is so much more than just a fancy building with a pretty view,” said Michelle Martinich, board chair of VNHC.

“Our team of qualified doctors, nurses and support staff offer a continuum of care which addresses both the needs of the patient and their families. With about 30 staff and dozens of trained volunteers, Serenity House offers a variety of medical and integrated approaches to providing comfort, dignity and peace at life’s end,” she said.

VNHC will host an open house and guided tours for the public from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 18, 2011. For more information, please contact Tamara Skov at (805) 690-6222 or email

Nonprofit since 1908, Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care provides high quality, comprehensive home health, hospice and related services necessary to promote the health and well-being of all community residents, including those unable to pay. Serving all of Santa Barbara including Santa Ynez and Lompoc Valleys. For more information, call (805) 965-5555 or visit


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