Upon entering the Mercy Hospice House, one immediately feels at home. This enveloping feeling of comfort was intentionally weaved throughout every element of the residence’s design, both internally and externally. Elements of the building’s exterior were the vision of local architectural illustrator and designer, Dan Nicholl.
Dan, who moved to the area in 1998, donated several renderings for the initial fundraising efforts of the Mercy Hospice House – where unknowingly he would later spend his final hours.
Hospice of Mercy and Mercy Hospice House have helped hundreds of people – including Dan – through their end-of-life journey empowering them to live their final days with dignity and respect. Staffed by a skilled team 24-hours a day the residential setting attached to Mercy’s main campus is designed to comfort body, mind and spirit. The residence features many amenities including large patient rooms with private patios, family gathering areas, gardens, a library, a living room, and even a shared kitchen. The Mercy Health Foundation (MHF) staff, board and community poured a lot of love and detail into the planning of the residence to ensure that the design would create a memorable, beautiful experience and celebration of life to honor the story of each patient. The design also includes a reflection hallway which has been important to families when their loved one passes and helps to create a beautiful memory as they leave the building at the end of their journey.
Dan worked closely with Mercy Health Foundation and local architectural firm, Bauen Group, to bring parts of his beautiful illustrations to life.
“Dan was indeed a lovely, creative man with an impressive career as an architectural illustrator,” said Joy Hess, MHF’s Development Officer, who had the honor of working alongside Dan on the Hospice House project. “We were so honored to have him partner with us.”
Dan was one of the few remaining hand illustrators in the world. He worked for top architectural firms illustrating projects around the world.
“Dan was a wonderful person,” Bonnie Nicholl, Dan’s wife of 34 for years, said. “He was an architectural illustrator and donated paintings of the Hospice House to help the Mercy Health Foundation with fundraising.”
“He was very generous,” Bonnie added. “He donated illustrations to a lot of different causes and friends. He loved to help others.”
The Mercy Hospice House was truly built by our community. Its creation was made possible through the generous contributions to the MHF by our friends and neighbors who helped to raise $5.6 million. Since opening, the residence and the caregivers who staff it have provided the gift of comfort to many members of our community.
“We were treated wonderfully by the staff of the Hospice House,” Bonnie explained. “The people were just wonderful. They upped the care they were providing Dan, checking on him more frequently, so that I could go home for a few hours.”
“When Dan passed away in my arms, the nurse coached me through the process. I had never been through something like that before,” Bonnie said. “The nurse encouraged me to keep talking to him because he could still hear everything I was saying. It was very peaceful. They were just amazing.”
The Hospice House also provides follow-up care to families after losing a loved one. Sara Barnes, Hospice Support Service Coordinator, continues to check in with Bonnie weekly.
Touched by the story of Dan’s contributions to the Mercy Hospice House and the care he and his family received while there, Dan’s family made the decision to request contributions be made in Dan’s memory to the Hospice Endowment Fund. The MHF has received $10,000 in memorial contributions in Dan’s memory so far. The Hospice Endowment Fund was set up to assist patients in clinical need of the residence to fund room and board regardless of their ability to pay. An endowment is a self-renewing resource, allowing the donor’s charitable intent to be fulfilled for generations to come.
“When Dan passed away, we thought what better cause to support in his name than asking that donations be made to the Hospice House,” Bonnie said.
“This is a truly amazing tribute,” Joy said. “I am so grateful to our Hospice team for the care they give and the difference they make in so many lives.”
At Mercy, we are so blessed that Dan chose to share his incredible talents with us. His legacy will live on through the comfort that is found in the walls of the Mercy Hospice House.
To view some of Dan’s work, visit dannicholl.com.