HW: House that enables people to be near hospitalized loved ones needs expansion

Alice Weingard of Rodgers Mesa thumbs through a magazine at one of the tables in St. Mary’s Hospital’s Rose Hill Hospitality House. Weingard is staying at the house while her husband of 39 years, Francis, is being treated for injuries he suffered in a car accident on Oct. 2. Weingard said she stayed at Rose Hill for two weeks following the accident, and has been staying there this visit since Nov. 28.

Grand Junction residents may have passed the Rose Hill House countless times, unaware of the healing going on inside.

Located near the intersection at Patterson Road and Seventh Street and tucked behind a shopping center, Rose Hill is a hospitality home where families of St. Mary’s Hospital patients can stay free of charge.

Without the opportunity to sleep, eat and bathe at Rose Hill, “I don’t know what I would have done,” said Alice Weingard.

Weingard stayed at Rose Hill for two weeks in October after her husband, Francis Weingard, was admitted to St. Mary’s with serious injuries after a car accident near Hotchkiss.

Alice Weingard didn’t want to leave her husband’s side while he was in intensive care for two weeks. A daily commute between Hotchkiss and Grand Junction also would have been tough.

Fortunately, Alice Weingard and her daughters were able to stay at Rose Hill, just a block from St. Mary’s.

Rose Hill houses about 30 people at a time with separate bedrooms and bathrooms and shared kitchen, living room and laundry spaces. Priority is given to nursing mothers of babies in St. Mary’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and to family members of patients in intensive care.

The home is always full, said Kathy Sherin, Rose Hill director.

Sometimes strangers have agreed to share rooms to enable more people to stay in the home, Sherin said.

They do their best to get families into Rose Hill whenever necessary and give every case individual attention, said Penny Cowden, executive director of St. Mary’s Hospital Foundation, which is raising funds to expand Rose Hill House.

“There’s always a waiting list,” Cowden said. “We get tired of looking at our waiting list. It’s heartbreaking.”

Plans call for a large addition to Rose Hill that will increase, among other things, the number of rooms.

More than 14,000 people from 48 states and 29 countries have stayed at Rose Hill in the past decade, Sherin said.

Philanthropy helped open Rose Hill in 1998, and it has stayed open through donations. Staff is in the home around the clock.

Alice Weingard recently returned to Rose Hill when her husband was readmitted to St. Mary’s in late November because of complications. The Weingards’ daughter, Lyndi Booth, is also staying with her mother at Rose Hill. Booth lives in Florida.

Through tears, Alice Weingard talked about the graciousness of Rose Hill’s staff toward her family.

“They do help. They really do,” Alice Weingard said.

“A medical crisis creates a financial strain. Being able to stay here, there is some respite. It’s like a net that catches people,” Cowden said.

St. Mary’s Hospital Foundation has opened an expansion fund for Rose Hill. Those who want to give to Rose Hill can send donations to St. Mary’s Hospital Foundation, P.O. Box 1628, Grand Junction 81502.


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