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Hosparus Health to build a new Louisville grief counseling center

A mockup image shows what Hosparus Health's future grief counseling center will look like once it's built. It displays a building of wood, brick and glass that's surrounded by a garden and walkways.
Dan Billings
Hosparus Health
A mockup image shows what Hosparus Health's future grief counseling center will look like once it's built. Hosparus Health broke ground on the project Wednesday and expects to complete construction this fall.

The new space is intended to help grieving people of all ages by providing individual counseling, support groups, art therapy and more.

People gathered out in the sunshine Wednesday on Ephraim McDowell Drive to shovel some dirt and break ground on Hosparus Health’s future Harshaw Family Grief Counseling Center.

The nonprofit plans to tear down an old facility it has there and replace it with a 7,000-square-foot building that’s designed to provide a range of therapy options throughout the day.

“For example, a counselor can lead an art therapy session while one-on-one therapy sessions occur in a counselor’s office,” Hosparus Health president and CEO David Cook said. “A teen support group can have a room to spread out while a remembrance event is taking place on the patio overlooking the grounds.”

Cook described the project as a “$4 million, state-of-the-art sanctuary and wellness center that will serve as a beacon of hope for those navigating life-changing loss.”

That includes the families of patients with terminal illness who get hospice care through Hosparus Health, but also people throughout the Louisville area who have lost loved ones in all kinds of ways.

Cook opened Wednesday’s groundbreaking celebration with a moment of remembrance for Louisville’s recent tragedies and acts of violence, including mass shootings that happened last month at Chickasaw Park and an Old National Bank downtown.

“As we gather here this morning, let’s first pause and reflect on the collective grief we all feel from the tragic events that have occurred recently across our community and our nation,” he said.

Cook mentioned that Hosparus Health sent mental health professionals to aid local residents during a citywide “night of resilience” after the Old National Bank massacre.

“Experiences like these highlight the need for responsive and effective community-based grief counseling services,” he said. “Our organization is committed to bringing forth a culture shift surrounding grief in our city: one where support and resources are fully funded and available for all who need them.”

Hosparus Health’s new grief center is being funded through philanthropy — including financial support from Frank and Paula Harshaw, after whom it will be named.

Tawanda Owsley, the organization’s chief development and marketing officer, said they have less than $750,000 left to raise in order to fully fund the project and would appreciate support from anyone interested in giving.

Construction is expected to finish in the fall, Owsley said. That means the grief center can start serving the community during the holiday season.

“We know that everyone is collectively grieving at the end of the year. As we approach the holidays, we see more and more families that are dealing with those first experiences without their loved ones,” she said. “So it’s even more important for us to be able to have the center open during that time.”

Hosparus Health’s vision is for the grief center to become part of a 60,000-square-foot campus that will be filled with indoor and outdoor spaces, including a healing garden, where people can reflect and find comfort.

Amy Hill, Hosparus Health’s executive director of counseling services, said people who are grieving can get professional support by calling Hosparus Health at 502-456-5451 or by reaching out to the staff online.

“Grief is a natural, normal thing that happens to all of us,” she said. “You come in, you call us … We know how to support people [and] walk along with them in their journey of grief.”

Morgan is LPM's health & environment reporter. Email Morgan at mwatkins@lpm.org.

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