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Courage Cottage ramps up awareness, fundraising

Courage Cottage officials are stressing the need to inform the public that the facility, built in 2001, is still owned and operated by Stevens Community Medical Center. New fundraising and information campaigns are being planned.

The Courage Cottage in Morris is kicking off a fundraising campaign in an effort to keep rates lower and to raise awareness that it's still a non-profit facility owned and operated by Stevens Community Medical Center.

SCMC's hospice program was transferred to another company a couple of years ago, but hospice is just part of what Courage Cottage does, said SCMC Adult Foster Care Coordinator Vicki Maanum.

But that didn't affect the ownership or management of Courage Cottage. Essentially, the company that owns the hospice program does business with Courage Cottage for its clients in the area.

"The community thought that if hospice went, that this is a hospice house, then Courage Cottage went, too," Maanum said. "(That misperception) led to hurt feelings. People said, 'I want to contribute to (Courage Cottage), but why should I contribute when they're just going to sell it.' Courage Cottage wasn't sold."

Courage Cottage is a five-bedroom home, decorated in warm, calming colors and featuring an open floor plan, including a dining room and kitchen. The private bedrooms include a television, telephone and private half-bathroom. It was built in 2001 thanks to many local contributors.

Licensed as Adult Foster With Services, Courage Cottage can serve three different groups:

•Short-term rehabilitation - Patients who have had surgery, heart attacks, or orthopedic procedures can stay at Courage Cottage while undergoing rehabilitation.

•Alternative care - This is for one or two residents who need supervision for an indefinite time.

•End of life care - Courage Cottage provides care for those with terminal illnesses on a hospice program who need around-the-clock care.

"We can take care of a lot of different people," Maanum said.

The Courage Cottage staff plays a major role in that, she said.

The staff-to-resident ratio is good and residents get plenty of personal attention. Staffers also receive monthly in-service training on care.

"The staff here does just a tremendous job," Maanum said. "The personal care residents receive is excellent."

But the variety of care available means expenses and the Courage Cottage has operated at a deficit since it opened. The SCMC Board of Directors, however, is fully committed to the Courage Cottage's mission, Maanum said.

"The board's philosophy has always been that this is a wonderful thing to offer the community and we want to keep that," Maanum said.

To help erase the shortfalls, the Courage Cottage is embarking on a fund development program. This is in addition to the money SCMC staffers already are contributing to the Courage Cottage, in lump sums or through payroll deductions, Maanum said.

"It's awesome that the employees of the hospital say, 'Yes, I want to contribute.' That says they want to keep it here, in our community."

Donations of $500 or more in the initial campaign, made before Feb. 1, 2010, will be recognized as charter members of the "Circle of Courage" on a plaque at the Courage Cottage.

The fundraising efforts will be ongoing throughout the year, and public awareness will be improved through mailings, a new brochure, a newsletter and Web site, Maanum said.

"Some people feel that to come to the Courage Cottage people have to be on their deathbed," she said. "That's not true. If people are on a hospice program they can come anytime. The staff gets more time to know the residents and they get time to develop a relationship with the staff. There's a lot of life going on here."