A group of Oregonians has banded together to keep Hopewell House hospice open — following Legacy Health’s decision last month to close it.

Joan Strong-Buell helped turn the historic home into a hospice back in the 1980s.

“The house almost has a life of its own. It’s a remarkable place,” she said.

Hopewell is a large home tucked in the hills of Southwest Portland, with 15 rooms where patients go to live the last days of their lives. Strong-Buell calls the idea of it closing grotesque.

“Thousands of people have been affected by the compassionate skillful care that has been given to someone who has spent their last days there,” she said.

Hopewell House Hospice opened 28 years ago to care for terminally ill cancer patients and those dying of AIDS.

Hopewell House Hospice opened 28 years ago to care for terminally ill cancer patients and those dying of AIDS.

Kristian Foden-Vencil/OPB

Strong-Buell said Friends of Hopewell House have collected 1,400 signatures from people in favor of keeping it open. And they have $150,000 to put toward the cause.

Legacy spokesman Brian Terrett said the company understands the concern, but fewer patients are choosing to die at Hopewell, opting instead for home hospice.

The federal government’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently made it harder to be admitted for in-patient hospice care — patients have to be sicker now.

Legacy thinks private insurance companies are likely to follow suit, meaning there will be even less demand for a place like Hopewell in the future.

“This effort won’t change the stricter criteria for being admitted as a general in-patient into Hopewell House, which is also impacting our numbers. It is important to point out that these are national trends happening all around the country,” Terrett said.

“We also know there is concern about what Legacy Health will do with the property. … We are looking at both short-term and long-term uses, but don’t anticipate making a substantive decision for at least a year.”

Hopewell House opened 28 years ago to care for terminally ill cancer patients and those dying of AIDS.