Rathgeber Hospitality House is a community project of the United Regional Foundation. It is a 26- room “hotel-like” facility designed to provide family members a place to stay while their loved one is hospitalized at United Regional.
Approximately 40% of United Regional’s patients come from outside the immediate Wichita Falls area. It has been proven that patients heal faster when their loved ones are near. Many families however, cannot afford to stay in local hotels. Or, they choose to stay close to their loved ones in busy hospital lobbies, without the opportunity to get the rest that they need to support their hospitalized loved one.
Rathgeber Hospitality House provides a solution to both these issues.
Several organizations over the years have attempted to start hospitality houses: the Junior League in the early 1980’s, the YWCA in 1992 and Bethania Auxiliary in 1995. Each met with challenges that could not be overcome.
Dick Rathgeber, originally from Wilbarger County, approached the Bethania Foundation in 1996, which merged with Wichita General Foundation to become the United Regional Health Care Foundation in 1998. Mr. Rathgeber was instrumental in beginning the project and was also the lead donor. He named the House after his grandparents Charles and Rose Rathgeber of Wichita Falls, TX.
In keeping with the volunteer nature of the project, a minimum donation of $40.00 per night was requested to cover operational expenses. Donations may be more or less according to a financial assessment of the primary caregiver, who is a necessary part of the healing process, while in the ICU-CCU units.
Rooms are assigned on a first come, first served basis. The House is primarily for family members of patients at United Regional. When space allows, pre-operative and post-operative patients, from surrounding communities, are also welcome to stay at the house.
The cost of building the hospitality house was contracted at $920,000. After adding furnishings and final details, the total cost of the project was $1.2 million. Funds were raised through donations and grants from individuals, foundations and corporations. Additionally, service organizations and individuals from the surrounding communities were also given the opportunity to provide funding to furnish individual rooms, which were “named” for the community.
The United Regional Foundation had the official groundbreaking ceremony for this project on March 24, 1999. The grand opening was held April 4, 2000.
Rathgeber Hospitality House celebrated its 10-year anniversary in 2010. The Board launched a very successful capital campaign raising $500,000 to add on a 900 sq. ft. Family Room, refurbish the existing House, and adding on-site storage. This addition completed the much needed space for even more solace for families.