Finally, there’s hope for Hopewell House

Light on the horizon for shuttered hospice care facility in Hillsdale neighborhood

By Eric Walsh 
January 4, 2021

Almost 13 months ago, Dr. Ira Byock and I published an article in STATNews titled “Hopewell House Has Closed. You Should Care About That.” We wrote about the closing of Portland, Oregon’s, only inpatient hospice house. Our article paid homage to a facility, which first opened in 1989 and that had attended the death of 10,000 Portlanders while caring for another 9,000 who returned home to die after Hopewell had adequately controlled previously intractable symptoms.

Last November, we had never heard of the coronavirus. Since then, the virus is closing in on 300,000 American deaths. It has become the leading cause of death in the United States and ravaged the funding of state and local governments. The idea of “coming to the rescue” of an inpatient hospice seemed like it could fall victim to the virus.

So, the question became “could Hopewell House be saved?” The vision was for a pioneering, new hospice under a different financial model not governed by all of the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Health care Organizations, and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Or, should those of us in Portland give up on having an inpatient hospice facility in our fair city, The City of Roses? There was no guarantee that we could reopen Hopewell House. In fact, that quest seemed quixotic, dreamlike, maybe impossible. But beginning in 2019, and working throughout 2020, a group of dedicated Portlanders led by the original founder of the house, Joan Strong Buell, created a nonprofit entity, Friends of Hopewell House, whose sole goal was raising the funds to reopen Hopewell House as a hospice-only residential care facility. The effort was inspired by a group in Medford, Oregon, who opened Celia’s House, an inpatient hospice facility in 2016. That facility continues to have excellent success providing exemplary care.

With the type of community-driven effort that was abundantly present at the beginning of the hospice “movement,” I’m happy to report that Friends of Hopewell House have so far received three significant financial contributions. A generous $1 million donation was made by the locally based Marcia H. Randall Foundation and two $500,000 donations have been given by prominent Portlanders. One is from Priscilla Bernard Wieden and Dan Wieden (of Wieden + Kennedy, a successful Portland-based advertising agency with offices globally). The Wiedens’ gift inspired Marcia Randall to come forward with her donation and, most recently, a third $500,000 donation came in from a well-known local real estate developer & philanthropist, Joe Weston. All three angel donors had deep connections with hospice care. Priscilla Wieden was a volunteer at Hopewell House and her firsthand experience motivated her gift. Marcia Randall had a friend die at the house, inspiring her to learn more and Joe Weston had a brother who died under hospice care.

This month, Friends of Hopewell House made a well-received first bid on the building, which is set on over 4.5 acres. The group has the organizational infrastructure to do everything necessary once they own the building and is fully prepared to implement all relevant state regulations and operating plans for the new Hopewell House.

Should all move forward, the 12-bed facility will offer 10 private rooms and ample space to accommodate loved ones. It will be open to a diverse population inclusive of all races, religions, sexualities, financial resources and ages.

Friends of Hopewell House has worked with Celia’s House to develop innovative sources of funding, which include bed-day grants through hospital programs and a Medicaid funding increase in Oregon for patients at the end of life.

It will not be the standard GIP (general inpatient care) model. Given the current regulatory climate, and the profit motive in for-profit hospice programs, the GIP model of hospice care may, itself, be “on hospice.” The new Hopewell House will work collaboratively with Medicare-certified hospice providers and will be staffed with 24/7 registered nurses and certified nursing assistants, and volunteers who are specifically trained in end-of-life care, mindful caregiving and conscious dying.

The reopened Hopewell House will also be a source for education and research, providing death-positive education and community outreach programs for the Portland metro area and beyond. The organization will partner with universities to conduct studies in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) at end of life, as well as offering a wide range of integrative and non-pharmacological treatment strategies to manage symptoms and relieve suffering. The goal is to holistically serve the emotional, spiritual, medical and familial needs of residents.

Medical professionals and volunteers trained and experienced in hospice care will be ready and willing at a moment’s notice to collaborate at the bedside with hospice care teams. As evidenced by the Celia House model, Friends of Hopewell House believes that the reopened Hopewell House will be able to care for 95% to 100% of the “hospice ICU” problems.

Friends of Hopewell House are still in need of financial contributions to ensure their vision can be fully realized. Donations can be made via their GoFundMe campaign at

Every gift given will support the singular vision of what Hopewell House can be again: a beautiful home providing peace and dignity for the dying as well as solace for their families.

Dr. Eric Walsh is an emeritus professor at OHSU, now retired, and working as a board member for Friends of Hopewell House.

CLICK HERE to read the original article.

The Creek Its Own Recurrence

There’s something quieting and comforting about everyday concerns, as we follow stormy events, both political and meteorological. Our president-to-be can only really be helped by all of us, thinking him strong thoughts, giving what we can to equity and sanity and understanding, and gently going about our business.

In our own family, an old school bus, a Skoolie named Ernest, grows finer by the day, as our oldest son, Tom, and his wife, Jamie, rebuild and fashion his insides.

We watch the spring creep in. Our daughter, Hester, spends a day giving vaccinating shots. And readying for sleep, I say to myself in the quiet dark, a poem, by Ursula Le Guin:

McCoy Creek: Eddies

Downstream from the rock, the half-baffled current spins
into a few small whirlpools, water-knots
that curl their way along, loosen and disappear,
one vanishing while another one begins,
brief, clear, quick beings or events –
                                        I lose the difference
of thing and act: the rock itself a knot
untied in time, the creek its own recurrence, and my thought
a glint of slipping sunlight caught
in running water –

Reading Aloud

tcb at sea

I read aloud often to Tom. Lately, as tonight, I sometimes read him his own poetry. We agree, these are good poems. (See a few of them below, and try reading them aloud yourself, not hurried. You can also find them, and others, in a new window at

Part of the pleasure is having Tom hear the poems newly, almost as though they’d been written by someone else. But then of course he remembers details of the experience and why he wrote them.

Atlantic Crossing

For NDH (Norris D. Hoyt)

Knuckles nut tight on the wheel,
running my mantra like an outboard.
Like the time I’d fallen in, alone,
in the middle of the pond,
breaking my way to the edge.

I’ll make it home, I’ll make it sure,
running there with skates still on,
over the frozen fields.

Or the first time I prayed,
my white rat lying senseless
on the bed from when I hit him hard
with a sockfull of BB’ s because
he’d half eaten the starling I’d
saved, fallen from its nest.

(The rat, righting itself, blinked pink.)

And you, the skipper, tallest teller
of any tale, you were speechless
in the banshee night, storm trys’l set
running before a full gale, and I
needing blather to keep my mind
from broaching, pitchpoling, giving in.

My mantra half in gear now and slipping,
over the edge, and you, the skipper
catatonic. But no, (TE DUM!)
you gray beard loon, you were asleep.
half awash but sleeping. If you
could have that much faith,
then I could too, and tell the tale.

* * *

Hwai-Yuen 1910

I open the ibis box for treasure
of old china, brittle as temple
birds brocaded on the lid of memory
and recall old songs, like roofs
of red tile, the streets empty
except for beggars and dead dogs.
Next to us the orphanage, the girl
children, some from our own doorstep.
Spinsters sequestered in their earmuffs
coming in battalions to help the mission
yet another year; we were so young
we all called them auntie.
Auntie Tatti appears in silk,
silent footed along the rattan halls,
when we were breast fed by amahs.
These old albums sting my eyes with dust.

* * *

I Was In The Men’s Room

Standing next to a Harley D. guy wearing
A Nazi helmet at the urinal, when all I could
Say was, “Hi, nice day,” falsetto in fear.
He didn’t bother to respond, so I didn’t croak “Peace.”

Imagine, then, the background to this:
Think of Emily D’s “stillness at the bone” —
(she was thinking of serpents) — me encountering
bikers the size of behemoths, in leathers, pissing.

We (family and dog) were at the rest stop
Sawtooth Mts. and gassing up — then all
The bikers roared in, next to us, bearded.

We, gassed by now, pulled away, and I
Girding my loins went to pee (see above) —
And me, I wanted panoramic shot of all
Those bikers fueling up, against the mts.

“No, no daddy, don’t!”  But I did, swinging
The camera, so they wouldn’t notice and they
Didn’t– the bikers, calm at the pump, quiet.


Distancing Voluntarily

I hardly need to tell you, beyond what you’ll see here, how our lives have changed, how little we can plan for the future.

Hopewell House is still silent, but Friends of Hopewell House is alive and well, an amazing group, a corps of which meets weekly (now virtually), and will be ready when the time comes to resume where we left off. Legacy, until the virus hit, was getting ready to turn it over to us. You can go to our website at, and read our first newsletter, just out today, by CLICKING HERE.

It’s curious, being retired anyway, and not lacking in ways to carry on our lives, our inner lives and our lives together, without a great deal of new input, how we go on about our days, quietly and mostly full of hope.

The present “head” of government bears responsibility for thousands of deaths, continues to ignore this, and behave irresponsibly. Whether he will waken to that realization, and change, is another question. I am afraid he’s not capable of that.

Here’s how I started one day this week, in the beautiful clear dawn:

Leaving for the store at 6:55 a.m.
Leaving for the store at 6:55 a.m., I see the Kerria Japonica is half out by the turnaround.

unnamed (51)
At the end of the driveway, I get the pleasure of the beautiful cherry that Uncle Phil Joss planted in about 1945 when they built that house.

unnamed (52)
The sun is farther up when I return, hitting the Magnolia, which looks like this from Penridge Road.

unnamed (53)
And looks slightly different from down below on our driveway.

unnamed (54)
When I pull all the way in, our house is still not fully in the sun, but almost.

You can find many restful poems, meditations, and mantras in the collection I’ve been assembling called “Well-Being and Being Well.” It’s under my name at, or I encourage you to open it by CLICKING HERE.


Calling All Friends of Hopewell House!


Many of you have heard that Hopewell House, the hospice program I helped start 28 years ago, has been slated to close by Legacy Health, which now runs it. They say that changes in Medicare funding have caused it to start losing money.

It has been wonderful to see so many friends and supporters from Portland and beyond come together to help make sure that Hopewell House doesn’t close, and that it will continue to help dying patients and their families in some way.

A group called Friends of Hopewell House has been formed with a page on Facebook, which you can join by clicking HERE. There’s also a petition circulating that tonight has 1,370 signatures! You can sign it, too, by clicking HERE.

Friends of Hopewell House will host a meeting Saturday, Sept. 21 at the Hillsdale Library at 2 p.m. Please join us there.

I’ve heard from so many of you in comments on this blog, but I’m not sure about the best way to contact you. Please email me at Thank you all so much for supporting Hopewell House.

The Newest Great-Grandchild


When I got to our daughter Hester’s house the other day, our youngest great-grandchild, Maya, was lying happily in the lap of Lily. Up till now Lily has been the youngest. That gentle supplanting happens to us all. Here Lily watches and perhaps understands. Maya, only two months old, has just registered on another smiling face, and Lily observes from the couch.

The three sisters, Emily, Julia, and Hannah, Hester and Len’s daughters, have taught me a lot in the last months about sisterhood. And it’s wonderful to feel the richness of people around us, spending time together, all ages, different relationships.


Days, This Week

image1 (3)Tom with one old friend, from graduate school days. This couple lives in Gresham.

image2And here he is with another old colleague. We went by their house Saturday and found them home. At the ends of all these long lives, it does take doing, making the date, driving across the city. But somehow it’s the embellishment and reaffirmation of friendship in the face of governmental chaos that’s important now.

All our younger friends and the three generations image3growing above us (this is our great-granddaughter, Lily, organizing the ducks and the loon by our wood stove) can probably barely imagine how we feel, but they help make it all possible. And we are grateful!

We’re also excited to learn that Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin will air on PBS American Masters on August 2 at 9 p.m.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Welcomed by Family and Friends


Friday, May 17 – We’re just coming in to Rochester NY, breakfasted, beds out of the way, “Some of these farmhouses are lovely, porches around them, all wood. Haven’t seen a single brick one,” says Tom. We were asleep all the way through Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania where those would have been. We’ll be glad to be in bed in a Springfield motel tonight.

unnamed (46)Saturday, May 18 – First day. Picnic (tailgate) with son Dexter and Keri at Oxbow Marina in Northampton where his daughter Clara was playing in an Ultimate Frisbee tournament. The hills around were soft with new green and I asked Dex for that photo. We were right by a wood full of sensitive fern and the fiddleheads of wood fern, and at the other side of us were playing fields, tents, and hundreds of high school age men and women throwing Frisbees.

unnamed (44)Then they dropped us off for a nap, and grandson Griffin (red t-shirt, “Fund our Future”) picked us up at our motel and took us to their house, only a few minutes away, for supper. It’s lovely, sitting in the woods, with a beautiful (and weedless) garden. He and Heather have a sweet year-old corgi puppy, Leeloo. We had a warm summer evening, wonderful feeling.

Griffin is working as a carpenter, starts graduate school in September at UMass Amherst Labor Center. We’ll visit Heather’s HTWoodshop tomorrow.

unnamed (49)Sunday – We stopped at Heather’s shop on the way. Raining but then the sun came out. Such a good supper last night at Griffie and Heathers! Leeloo is of course sweet.

This was a stellar day, all together with Dexter and Keri, Griffin and Heather, Jewell, daughter of Tom’s brother Bill, and John, Bill’s youngest, and his wife, Beth. Complicated, I know.

Also there were Jewell’s daughter Zoe, and Jewell’s neighbor and friend, Lee Edelberg, the tall man some may not have met.IMG_2015


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Off We Go Again!

60354904_10213168951170709_289344202905485312_nWe’re heading east by train once again, visiting family and friends, and stopping in at the Smith College reunion next weekend – my 65th!

On Tuesday, May 14, we ate our supper coming up the Columbia Gorge, late sun slanted in under swirly clouds. When we drove up this way as newlyweds on the way east in 1954, Celilo Falls was still there. 

I’ve learned to order one instead of two and it was plenty. Box lunch since we don’t get the dining car till we join up in Spokane with our other half of the Empire Builder coming in from Seattle.

Here we are stopped just briefly at the west entrance to Glacier Park.

IMG_2919Tom is tucked in down below, and I’m glad to report getting into the top bunk was not hard. I didn’t realize how much the exercising, change in diet, of the last two months had been in preparation for this trip, but just now, going five cars forward and up and down the necessary stairs to the dining car for breakfast, I knew! I never could have done that with the weight and lack of muscle strength I had in February.


We do get tired by the end of a long day, and getting into my bunk, I sometimes think, “Are we crazy!?” But after a long night’s sleep, everything seems right again. We’re just going along the Erie Canal now, east of Rochester, looking forward to all the visits to come this week in that beautiful Connecticut River Valley we know so well.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Saying Goodbye to My Sister, Liz

58373040_10219350002165196_5817300337895145472_oOn a day when it did not rain, and the air was soft, a group of us gathered on April 23rd at the cemetery to bury Liz’s ashes in earth that already holds many of our family members who have gone before. We sang and spoke and bid her goodbye. Tom had decided to wear his Cochran kilt in honor of Liz, and he looked dashing.

Friends Joan’s age came who had known our family since childhood. And it was good to be all together, even Dexter all the way from New York.

Julia and Hannah had taken the day off, Hannah carrying the unborn next generation.
Liz never did like taking walks, but several of the songs we sang are ones she sang with Joan, encouraging her while she walked to a restaurant, songs our parents sang to us in childhood.

As one of her caregivers wrote, “She was a lovely lady.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.