Molly's House: A Safe Haven For Those In A Medical Crisis

May 13, 2019

Polly DeLater, Bill West, Amber Ducote and Mimi Wild
Credit Tania Ortega-Cowan

Back in the 1990’s, Stuart teenager Molly Sharkey faced a 6-year battle with leukemia that took her and her family all over the country seeking treatment. Accommodations for the family and others she met along the way was both expensive and stressful. This gave Molly a clear vision of what she wanted to leave behind for people facing the same challenges.

PD:  Her dream was to build a home open to everybody who was going through a medical crisis to keep the families together. 

That’s Polly DeLater – Development Director for Molly’s House, which is a finely decorated, three story bright yellow Hospital Hospitality House built in 1996 soon after Molly passed, in Stuart, Florida. It provides short-term, affordable accommodations for the families of hospitalized loved ones and hospital outpatients. (busy house sounds up and under throughout) We paid a visit to Molly’s House to find out more. We met with…

BW: Bill West – CEO of Molly’s House. The vision of this little girl and even 25 years later -  it is really an innovation in health care

Molly’s House has 14 private rooms and two shared kitchens. The design followed Molly’s wishes to a ‘t’ – even a bay window for reading in the library, and the desire to not have to share a bathroom.

PD: So there is a bathroom in every room! You want privacy but you want to be able to come together as well. And that is the real beauty of this house – the way it is built with individual rooms and the communal kitchen.

Here is Amber Ducote- Outreach Coordinator.

AD: Most of these families are going through the toughest of times so financially they are already struggling. Most hotels are going to cost at least a couple hundred dollars a night whereas we ask for a $30 donation. But if they can’t pay – you know we work it out. They don’t have to. And that is where the community support comes in.

The actual hard cost to Molly’s House is $60 so their ‘Guardian Angel’ program picks up the difference, and if guests cannot pay at all, then the program covers it. The fine décor and finishings have all been donated, and 25 volunteers man the front desk Monday through Friday from 8-5.

PD: And since opening our doors, we have served as a refuge for over 22,500 people

Often in the mornings…

BW: You sneak up to get a cup of coffee and the families are up there getting ready to out and visit their loved ones for the day or go off to their treatment, and they are having coffee and getting together – they are all sharing their own stories, they will share stories with you and It’s just a really neat experience.

TOC: It’s a real built in support group isn’t it?

BW: Yes. Very much

Guests are by medical referral only – in fact the Cleveland Clinic Hospital is directly across the street – and other than that there are no requirements to stay, like age or ailment.  Here is Mimi Wild – Operations Manager.

MW: we have been averaging between 20 and 21 per every week 

They also have longer term guests staying for several months …

MW: And there’s about 7 of them and that’s a really nice thing because they have some place to stay.

We took the elevator (elevator sounds) up to the second-floor kitchen where we met three of them.

TOC: What is your name?

M: Mary. It’s a pleasure to meet you… About 12 weeks ago I was diagnosed with cancer. Molly’s House has given me a place to rest and feel safe and lots of love. Lots of love. And I have healed quite nicely. I get better instead of worse.

Here is Katherine

K: It’s been a really sweet place to stay and just like home. We feel really secure here.

T: I’m Teresa. We’re all here together. We have lots of good laughs. Lots of good conversation around our little table.

Here’s West again:

BW: There is a lot of need here and a lot of demand, so currently we are planning a 10-room expansion on the back.

They also offer a Caregiver Respite Program. Again, DeLater:

PD: Where we bring in the caregiver for 4 days and 3 nights.

Local museums, theatres, salons, spas, restaurants, even a boat captain donate services to pamper them.

PD: And we send a caregiver at no cost to them to take care of their loved one. And its huge – you see the change in them. They come in and they’re stressed.

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