Hospice Ministries Inc. is pictured here on Thursday, May 25, 2023, in Ridgeland, Miss. Credit: Eric Shelton/Mississippi Today

The Jackson metro area’s only inpatient hospice facility closed its doors at the end of April.

The nonprofit Hospice Ministries in Ridgeland offered 30 to 40 inpatient beds available for people who needed hospice services but could not remain at home or in another facility. 

Hospice care is defined as a type of health care that focuses on comfort and alleviation of symptoms at the end of life for terminally ill patients. It is provided in homes, inpatient facilities and hospitals, among other facilities.

In addition to residential care, the inpatient facility at Hospice Ministries also provided short-term care for patients whose caregivers needed extra assistance or to leave the home.

It’s unclear what caused the facility to close, though a spokeswoman for the Mississippi State Department of Health said the closure was voluntary. The organization’s Executive Director Suzannah Britt referred questions to Medical Director Dr. Gerry Ann Houston, who did not respond by the time of publication.

A press release posted on the group’s website midweek attributed it to “the many changes in healthcare.”

“Closing the inpatient facility will allow Hospice Ministries to put more focus on providing end of life care to patients in their ‘homes,’ whether it be their personal residence, a nursing home or an assisted living facility,” the statement read.

In an interview with the Northside Sun in 2019, Britt said while the organization is mostly known for its inpatient care, most of the care it provides is via in-home services. She also said there was a waiting list for the inpatient facility, and there had been a donation from the McRae Foundation to expand the center and remodel a suite that had been closed. 

The organization is funded by reimbursements from Medicare, Medicaid and commercial insurance, in addition to community support, she said.

Hospice Ministries also offers in-home hospice care, bereavement services and a counseling center that offers grief counseling for children. 

Ashley Parker, a geriatric social worker who runs a business called Compassionate Consulting, works in the Jackson area and has referred many of her clients to Hospice Ministries.

“The inpatient facility has been a godsend to families and has provided such wonderful care at the end of life. I am so saddened that Hospice Ministries is no longer able to provide their inpatient services,” Parker told Mississippi Today. “ … The support it offered will be missed significantly in our community.”

The only other inpatient hospice facilities in the state are located in Hattiesburg, the Gulf Coast and north Mississippi, according to the state Health Department’s health facilities directory.

Hospice Ministries’ website says it accepts patients regardless of ability to pay. The nonprofit reported around $300,000 in indigent charity care on its latest available tax filing. 

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Kate Royals is a Jackson native and returned to Mississippi Today as the lead education reporter after serving in the same capacity from 2016 to 2018. Prior to that, she was a reporter for the Clarion-Ledger covering education and state government. She won awards for her investigative work, including stories about the state’s campaign finance laws and prison system. She was a news producer at MassLive in Springfield, Mass., after graduating from Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Mass Communications with a master’s degree in communications.