Leaving Their Mark In Permanent Ink

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East End Hospice employees gathered in the parking lot of their main office Tuesday morning to sign the final beam that will be used to build the Kanas Center for Hospice Care on Quiogue.

KYLE CAMPBELL

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Members of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5350 sold their longtime headquarters in Quogue in November. ALEXA GORMAN

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East End Hospice President and CEO Priscilla Ruffin signs the final beam that will be used to build the Kanas Center for Hospice Care in the parking lot of the East End Hospice office on Old Riverhead Road on Tuesday. KYLE CAMPBELL

While many have left their figurative mark during East End Hospice’s long journey to open an inpatient care facility on the South Fork, the nonprofit’s employees made literal marks on the structure Tuesday morning.

As workers with Hauppauge’s Axis Construction prepare to put the finishing touches on the Quiogue building’s steel frame later this week, dozens of East End Hospice staff members and volunteers signed their names on the final girder that will make up the building’s framework.

“It’s a special occasion for all of us, because we all worked so hard to make this a reality,” East End Hospice campaign coordinator Maribeth Edmonds said Tuesday. “This is a way to recognize all us worker bees who are here day in and day out.”

The final steel beam will be hoisted to the top of the frame today, February 12, Ms. Edmonds said, completing the first stage of construction on the recently named Kanas Center for Hospice Care. The steel girders soon will be wrapped and then covered by the building’s exterior—but the names on that final beam will remain exposed and visible from the building’s attic. “It’s in permanent ink, so it’ll be there forever,” she said, “recognizing those who put in the work to make this a reality.”

East End Hospice broke ground on the future site of the inpatient facility on Meetinghouse Road in July, after more than a decade of planning. East End Hospice President Priscilla Ruffin, who signed her name to the beam on Tuesday when it was still outside her organization’s main office in Westhampton, said the work has progressed quickly, even in the face of inclement weather, as Axis stopped work for only one day during last month’s blizzard.

Ms. Ruffin said Tuesday’s event represented the culmination of all the hard work she and others have put in since before the organization was even certified by the state. “I think I’ll need a Kleenex when it goes up on Thursday,” she said.

The 11,000-square-foot, one-story building will have eight bedrooms as well as a spa, a great room and a bereavement counseling center. Hospice officials hope the building will be completed by this summer.

So far, the group has raised $8.7 million for the project, Ms. Ruffin said, with the help of thousands of donations, ranging from $5 to the $2 million donated by East Moriches philanthropists John and Elaine Kanas, for whom the building is named. Fundraising efforts are ongoing.

Ms. Ruffin said the need for an inpatient facility is constantly growing as more people are living longer and fewer people are able to take time off from work to care for their dying relatives.

Currently, East End Hospice provides in-home hospice care, but that requires a family member to be home. The goal of the new facility is to provide end-oflife care to individuals who do not have family members who can be home to assist them.

East End Hospice employee Sarah Bowe, one of the dozens of employees who signed the beam on Tuesday, said she takes calls constantly from family members inquiring about inpatient care. She said she’s excited to finally be able to give those families some good news.

“It’s amazing that they’re actually building a facility,” she said. “To be able to serve the entire East End community will be amazing.”