A very special house has been making Winchester Medical Center patients and their loved ones feel at home for the past ten years. The Hurst Hospitality House has been home to over 18,000 guests since opening its doors in 2007.
“It really means a lot for people to come into this home-like atmosphere and to be able to stay in a private bedroom, to be able to share the living environment, and not just having to stay in a room like they would a hotel,” Wendy Wiley of Hurst Hospitality House says.
The house is on Winchester Medical Center’s campus, and is used for out of town family and visitors, who are critical to the hospital’s patients care and recovery. The house is able to offer the stays for free with the community’s help, the Winchester Medical Center auxiliary, and its caring volunteers.
“We give hospitality to people who need it, who are far from home, who need that hug, that smile, that you know, ‘please help me.’ Okay, I’m here to help you,” says Cookie Oates, chairman of the Hurst Hospitality House.
Oates has been chairman and a volunteer since the start, and has met thousands of people while volunteering at the house. She says it’s bittersweet when they leave, because some of them stay for months at a time.
“You get use to them being around and sharing all of that with them, because you go through everything with them. They tell you they need somebody to talk to about it and you listen, and you fall in love with them. You just do, you love them,” Oates says.
The house is helpful to those who can’t afford weekly stays at hotels, and those who live over 40 miles away from the hospital. Olen and Janet Ayers would have to travel 3 hours to the hospital for his daily cancer treatments if it were not for the house.
“It’s been nice. Wendy’s been awful nice to us and the rest of them too. All of them that’s what they’ve been,” Olen and Janet Ayers say.
The Ayers have been at the house for three months, and although they will miss their new friends, they are looking forward to getting back home.
“Go home and mow my yard, and hose the garden, and plow it up. Plowing has to be done and everything,” Olen Ayers says.
The Hurst house has hosted visitors from 48 of the 50 states.