The Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) & Hospice Foundation kicked off our 2024 Annual Fund campaign in November 2023, requesting our donors to support the VNA’s mission of providing the highest quality home health, hospice, and community health services to residents of Indian River County. As a non-profit organization, we extend home health and hospice care to the under and uninsured residents of our community, seeking to ensure everyone has access to the care they need and deserve. This would not be possible without the generosity of our donors. Your support allows the VNA to provide care to vulnerable populations through your donations to our Annual Fund.

The VNA Hospice House is one of the many programs supported through donations to the Annual Fund. This vital asset to our community needed over $1.4 million of philanthropic support in fiscal year 2023 to provide care for hospice patients who could no longer receive their hospice care at home in their final days. Built in 2000 and fully renovated in 2021, the 12-bed facility was designed to feel like a home and not a cold, sterile medical facility. The VNA Hospice House was created to be a place where patients and their families could experience dignity and compassion in those final days, with a caring staff dedicated to ensuring comfort during a difficult time and an environment that promotes tranquility and a sense of peace.

We had the opportunity to speak with the McDonald Family, who graciously agreed to provide a testimonial for our Annual Fund this year. Lara McDonald, a 34-year-old stylist for Anthropologie, passed away at the VNA Hospice House in April 2023 from colon cancer. Lara’s mother Jill, a Vero Beach resident since 2004, didn’t realize that this incredible facility was tucked away next to Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital on 37th Street. “I walked in the door, and I remember just standing there and going ‘oh my gosh’…I didn’t even know this was back here,” Jill said.

From being able to bring Lara’s dog in to visit her, to rolling Lara’s bed out onto the porch to view the tranquil gardens, Lara’s sister Alix noted: “Anything just to make her [feel] comforted in that moment, you all tried your hardest.” Caitlin, Lara’s other sister, reminisced about the impact on their family during Lara’s stay: “The care you provided for my sister was incredible, but it was almost that it was more so for us and that was so amazing. I think that anyone would be so lucky to spend their final moments here.”

Navigating through the hospice experience can be an emotional and difficult journey for patients and their families, especially during a patient’s last few days with us. The VNA Hospice House is a place where families like the McDonald’s can feel secure knowing their loved one is receiving the highest quality of care while also receiving the support they need as well. The VNA Hospice House, along with the staff and volunteers who work there, creates a sanctuary for our patients and their loved ones. This community treasure would not have been possible without our donors who helped us create this sanctuary and who keep it available for residents in our community. Your donations to the VNA & Hospice Foundation allowed the VNA to give Lara McDonald the compassionate care she needed and the whole McDonald Family the support and comfort they needed as they said goodbye to their beloved Lara.

If you would like to help support the VNA’s programs and services, including the VNA Hospice House, please consider donating to our 2024 Annual Fund by clicking here.

To read more about Lara McDonald and the care she received at the VNA Hospice House, click here