Guest house planned

Photo by Dave Boyd
A new hospital guest house is being planned that would serve families of patients in area hospitals. Pictured in front of the current hospital guest house are Linda Keller, Jane Conley, Rita June Ingram and Dot Robinson, members of the Hospital Guest House Board of Directors.

By Greg Miller
star staff

  JOHNSON CITY -- A new hospital guest house is being planned that would serve families of patients in area hospitals.
  "I want to emphasize that this is not just for the Johnson City Medical Center and/or the VA," said Rick Chantry, Chairman of the Hospital Guest House's Public Awareness Committee.
  Those who would utilize the services of the hospital guest house must live at least 30 miles away. The cost to stay in the guest house is much less than for a motel room.
  Debbie Richter, Sevierville, is grateful for the service of the existing hospital guest house, located near JCMC on the Veteran's Administration Hospital campus. Richter's husband, Robert, was admitted to the VA Hospital in Johnson City on June 17. She initially stayed at the hospital guest house for five weeks and now visits her husband about every other week.
  Debbie says that if it weren't for the guest house she wouldn't be able to visit her husband as often as she does. Hospital Guest House Resident Manager Michael Ball "has been real helpful", she said. "All I have to do is give him a call and he does all he can to make sure I have a room. It's like a home away from home."
  The project to build a new hospital guest house "is being done in partnership with all the local hospitals," said Chantry. "They're all aware and assisting us in any way they can, even helping us to print some things up with their print shops and that type of thing. They're very aware and very helpful with this and have given us whatever they can," he said.
  The guest house will be located next to the Ronald McDonald House on the JCMC property of the Johnson City. The first guest house was opened on Maple Street in 1987, before moving to its current location on VA property.
  "The Johnson City Women's Club realized that there was a need for a place for relatives or loved ones of patients in the hospital," said Jane Conley, secretary of the Hospital Guest House project. "We sent out a letter to a whole bunch of people in the community and asked them to form a community-wide board. That's how it got started."
  The current guest house has four bedrooms, each with a private bath. The new guest house will have 10 bedrooms. An apartment will be located on the lower level for the facility's manager. The building will also have a kitchenette and will be handicapped accessible.
  In addition to the property for the construction of the guest house, JCMC is also "donating the landscaping maintenance, which is a big deal for something like this," Chantry said.
  About 20 people are members of the Hospital Guest House Board of Directors. "Many of them are full-time, and many of them are working with us to raise the awareness of it, so that we can begin to raise money," said Chantry.
  "We can always use volunteers for the Public Awareness Committee and the Ways and Means Committee and so forth," Conley said. "We need lots of volunteers. There's a whole bunch of work to do."
  In addition to volunteers, money is definitely needed, too. "We could start construction within a couple of months, if we could raise the money," Chantry said. "The money is the issue. We're aware of that, so we're setting our goal at three years to raise the $750,000."
  Companies are also needed to donate items such as building materials and washing machines, Conley said.
  Contributions may be sent to the Hospital Guest House, P.O. Box 3973-CRS, Johnson City, TN 37602.
  For more information or to offer your services as a volunteer, call 282-2136 or 282-1413 or email