25 Years of Care, Compassion, and Commitment

We have to go back to 1892 to see where Faith Hospice got its start and where that was, was not in hospice care. At this time, Holland Home opened its doors to help aging seniors in the West Michigan community. In 1986, hospice became a permanent Medicare benefit, and we soon realized a need for faith-based hospice care in our community. So, in 1995, Hospice of Holland Home started providing care to those approaching the end of their life.

After a few years of bringing hospice care to people’s homes, we saw a further need for a residential unit, and in 1997, one was opened on Holland Home’s Breton campus.  With this new unit, we could expand our services and offer more options where people could receive the hospice care we provided. Meanwhile, the number of patients served in their own homes continued to grow.

Five years later, The Peter C. and Pat Cook Hospice Center opened its doors. While this facility helped meet some of the growing needs, the building was leased and only intended as a temporary solution until a permanent structure could be constructed.

A short year later, in 2003, Hospice of Holland Home received a tentative go-ahead to build a hospice care center in Byron Center. The $13.5 million, 52,000 sq. ft. project was only made possible due to many generous donors, including Richard and Helen DeVos and Peter C. and Pat Cook. The 106 acres of land were also donated by Dan and Eunice Pfeiffer, Dan Timmer, and Dave Maas.

In 2005, we underwent a significant change: becoming Faith Hospice. We wanted a name that encompassed our mission of caring for mind, body, and spirit. It also represented our ecumenical Christian initiative, combining Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and Protestant faiths.  At this time, Faith Hospice served an average of 10 patients a day in our hospice facility and 70 patients a day in private homes and other facilities.

In June 2006, the 20-bed Trillium Woods opened its doors, becoming the first faith-based hospice facility in the Greater Grand Rapids area. Dr. John Mulder, a nationally known hospice and palliative physician, joined Faith Hospice as our Medical Director.

While Trillium Woods’ opening was a significant milestone for us, it’s important to note that most of the hospice care we provided was still in people’s homes throughout our community, much as it is today. Trillium Woods gave us a permanent structure for patients in a situation where in-home care was not possible, allowing us to better care for patients in various situations.

Over the next several years, we continued serving patients and evolving our care. We added more hospice physicians, including Dr. Patrick Fitzgibbon. We held bereavement camps for children, started a newsletter to educate our community, began a palliative care practice, and by 2016, we were serving an average of 208 hospice patients each day.

In the years following, we placed emphasis on continuing our mission by educating the community on hospice and palliative care and helping those through the grieving process with our bereavement services. Our services to patients in their homes continued to grow, and Faith Hospice expanded our service area to the eight counties surrounding Grand Rapids. Dr. Fitzgibbon became our Faith Hospice Medical Director while Dr. Mulder shifted his focus to begin Trillium Institute, which provides palliative care education to healthcare professionals and the community.

In 2020, the year of our 25th Anniversary, we faced one of the biggest challenges in our history: the global COVID-19 pandemic. The usual way of doing things wouldn’t work anymore. We had to make adjustments, cancel events, and take extra precautions to keep our staff and those we care for safe. The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have caused an even more significant bereavement burden on our community, and we continue growing to meet those needs. We are now serving an average of nearly 300 patients per day with a staff of 8 board-certified hospice and palliative physicians and 180 hospice employees.

As we look ahead and prepare for the next 25 years, we do so with hope and the same commitment to helping our community. In the upcoming years, we plan to build out the lower level of our Trillium Woods facility through our Grief Center Project. By doing so, we can broaden our capacity to serve and educate.

We have learned a lot over the past 25 years. Perhaps most important is that our services can have a profound impact on people—not just those in our care but their loved ones as well. Throughout all the changes—new buildings, a new name—our mission has remained the same: to care for the mind, body, and soul. We are very thankful for everything these first 25 years have given us and are eagerly looking forward to continuing the work we started.