Open Arms House 'at a Pivotal Point Right Now'
Last updated 5/1/2021 at 12:58pm | View PDF
You could sense the concern in Sabrina Jimenez' voice as she spoke.
"Most people aren't familiar with hospice and all that it has to offer," she said. "Most people don't talk about end-of-life care until they need it, or they are put in a position to make a medical decision for a loved one."
But the executive director of the Open Arms House in Visalia aims to change that, especially now that the six-bed home tucked away in a Central Visalia neighborhood has reopened its doors after a temporary closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Open Arms House, located on the corner of County Center and Iris Avenue, is unique to the community and the only non-profit facility of its kind between Southern and Northern California.
Licensed as a Residential Care Facility for the Elderly, the Open Arms House is part of a national movement to help improve the end-of-life experience for individuals and their families in their communities and throughout the United States.
These types of homes are designed for and focused on end-of-life care, staffed by trained caregivers and supported by local volunteers. Currently, there are only two similar facilities in California, in Santa Barbara and Torrance.
While its rates are among the lowest in the area, and it is known to provide care on a sliding fee scale, the Open Arms House receives no Medicare, Medi-Cal or private insurance reimbursement. It relies heavily on residents and their families to pay to the best of their ability, as well as donations and support from the community
That hasn't stopped Jimenez and her staff from being at the forefront in their approach to care. But when the COVID-19 pandemic started, the tough decision was made to take precautionary measures and temporarily close its doors, an especially tough decision since at the time they were almost at capacity. "It was a very difficult decision for us," she said.
"We had to ensure the safety and well-being of our residents, family members, and staff," she said, noting that the myriad of county, state and federal healthcare oversight agencies would give ever-changing direction in what was, and was not, allowed to happen during the pandemic.
When the facility reopened on October 6, all required measures and guidelines were in place to protect anyone who entered the home. Today, the facility that features six private rooms, each uniquely decorated in different themes, is currently allowing two family members to visit at a time.
"We're at a pivotal point right now," Jimenez said. "Just like so many other businesses and non-profits, the pandemic impacted us tremendously and we are calling upon our community for their continued support and to help spread the word that we are open and here to serve.
"For now, our focus is to continue to educate, support and bring awareness to the community because everyone at some point in their life has been or will be impacted by death," she said. "Knowing that there is a place that can guide you along and provides comfort, peace and dignity in a homelike setting to those in need is a blessing."
For more information on their services or ways to support the Open Arms House, call (559) 713-6542 or visit their website at http://www.openarmshouse.org