Those with loved ones in the hospital have plenty to worry about, and finding a quiet, comfortable and nearby place to sleep shouldn’t be one of them.
Benedict and Dorothy Gorecki of Milaca made sure that wouldn’t be an issue when they donated more than $1 million to establish a guest house across the street from St. Cloud Hospital for families of those needing medical care.
The “home away from home” opened with 12 rooms and, thanks to an additional donation from the Goreckis along with other donors, the Gorecki Guest House now has 28 rooms as it celebrates its 10-year anniversary.
The first guest was welcomed on June 15, 2009. Since, the Gorecki Guest House has had more than 28,500 guests.
They’ve come from every Minnesota county, 49 states, and countries such as Australia, Canada, England, France, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand and Spain.
Most guests are from about a 90 to 120-mile radius.
The mission of the guest house is to provide affordable, temporary housing in a peaceful, homelike setting to families and patients receiving medical care in the St. Cloud area.
As part of National Hospitality Week, there will be an open house at the facility from 3:30 to 5:30 on Thursday, July 25. Tours, refreshments and a chance to win door prizes are on the agenda for the public.
“We know how important it is for people needing medical care to have support systems, and patients have told us how much it means to them to have their families close,” said Christine Midthun, manager of the Gorecki Guest House. “For the families, it’s peaceful and they can connect with other people going through similar things if they want. The gratitude people feel for having this facility is big.”
Dorothy Gorecki still stops into the facility on occasion to drop off books for the library, and she also still serves on a Guest House committee. Benedict Gorecki died in July 2016 at 87.
Each room has two twin beds, a recliner, a private bathroom and costs $45 per night, though financial assistance is available for those who qualify.
The rooms are similar to hotel rooms, minus the television. The lobby, however, has televisions.
There also is a full kitchen with refrigerator and freezer so guests can cook their own meals to help defray costs of eating out. There is also an exercise room, laundry facilities and Wi-Fi.
The room charge is to help offset costs, which are also helped by donations.
There are 10 volunteers whose roles include helping check-in guests, light housekeeping, answering phones and marketing help. While most guests are family members of hospital patients, some will stay there the night before having surgery, Midthun said.
“We try to do things that make it more of a home rather than a hotel,” Midthun said. “We’ve got a lot of great hotels in the area, but if someone has to stay more than a few nights, that can be a financial burden. We try to make it so the families have one less thing to worry about.”
Thankful for facility
Of all those who have stayed at the Gorecki Guest House, there might not be anyone as grateful for it as Vicki Lippert and her family.
Things were normal at the Lippert house in Blomkest (15 miles south of Willmar) in early February until Doug Lippert started feeling numbness in his toes.
The next day, he couldn’t get out of his chair and was sent by ambulance to Rice Memorial Hospital in Willmar.
Needing a neurologist, he was then rushed to St. Cloud Hospital and was diagnosed with a type of polio. He was basically paralyzed from his toes to his chest.
That started a nearly two-month stay for Vicki and their three daughters, who would rotate staying at the facility.
“I hadn’t even heard of this facility until we got there,” Vicki said. “I know where the shopping is in St. Cloud, but didn’t know my way around the hospital. It was a life-saver for me. It worked out so well. The people at the house are the best. I would call them my best friends while I was there. If I wanted to talk to someone, they would always listen.
“For my husband, it was just as important. He always worries about me and I was never scared when I walked over to the house at night. It was incredibly comforting to him knowing I was right across the street.”
The Lipperts are back home in Blomkest, and though Doug is not at 100%, he is able to move around and even do a bit of work on the farm.
A recent guest wrote: “God bless you for providing a service that is so appreciated by family of patients in the hospital. Just having such a nice place to stay so close to the hospital means more than I can tell you. Thank you.”
For more information or to check room availability, call 320-255-6643 or go to centracare.com.