South Dakota: Berakhah House Set to Close
May 4, 2009
In mid-July, the Berakhah House will close after serving 14 years as an AIDS hospice and home for people living with the disease. The decision to close the eight-bedroom house, which takes its name from Hebrew for "blessing," was made by both Berakhah staff and its advisory board.
"It's probably a privilege that we worked ourselves out of a job," said Sister Liz Remily, who founded Berakhah House after she saw that South Dakota HIV/AIDS patients needed a place to live until they required medical care at a hospital or hospice. Since its opening on May 2, 1995, Berakhah House has had about 80 residents.
"With medicine so much better, and people with HIV/AIDS being able to live alone in their own apartments for so much longer, it's probably time," said Remily. The Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls will still have some mission for those living with HIV/AIDS, said Jerry Klein, chancellor of the diocese. "What shape it will take is yet to be determined," he said.
Sister Joanna Bruno, director of the house, said the state's rising HIV rate suggests there is a need for more HIV education and outreach. "With the resources we have, we maybe can take care of more people in that aspect of, you know, more home visits or meeting more transportation needs," Bruno said. "Maybe it's a better use of resources to help more people who are living alone. Many are alone and don't have their own transportation. And winters here are pretty tough."
The last two HIV-positive house residents are now looking for apartments. Bruno and Remily, both nuns with the Presentation Sisters, will leave for Guatemala in October to help establish a medical mission in a remote mountain village.
Argus Leader (Sioux Falls)
04.30.2009; Steve Young