The VNA Hospice House opened its doors in 2000, creating a place where hospice patients could go when they could no longer manage their care at home. Careful consideration was taken to ensure the 12-bed facility felt more like a home and less like a cold, sterile medical facility. The VNA wanted to ensure that patients at their end-of-life journey had a space for them and their families to experience dignity and compassion in those final days.

Kate Freeman knew of VNA Hospice through her clients and the community. She experienced the VNA firsthand in 2019 when she visited the VNA Hospice House to see a close friend, experiencing his passing while there. “The whole experience was really rather beautiful and peaceful,” Kate said of her first VNA experience.

In 2022, the Freeman Family faced a tragic situation that brought them back to the VNA Hospice House for their son Jack. While Jack was in the hospital, Kate made the decision to bring him to the VNA Hospice House, knowing she wanted to be in a place that would focus on a peaceful transition for both Jack and her family. Kate knew moving Jack would mean he and the family would have privacy while surrounded by dignity in a non-institutional setting.

The Freeman’s knew this was not a typical hospice case. Jack had been young and physically healthy, but a mental health crisis had become too much for him. The situation was emotionally intense for the whole family, but to Kate, being at the VNA Hospice House was about giving the family and Jack the opportunity to say goodbye. Jack’s siblings noted the importance of having space to say goodbye to their brother in their own way. The ability to have privacy and leave the room to visit the gardens or gathering space made the whole experience feel more personal to them.

Of the whole experience, Bill Freeman said “The entire environment…the staff was extraordinary.” Kate added that peacefulness surrounded the entire four days Jack spent at the VNA Hospice House. The family was able to come and go as they needed, with family members arriving late at night or early in the morning and his siblings staying overnight and sleeping sometimes on the floor next to Jack’s bed. The room’s porch allowed the family another space to sit and visit with friends who would come by to give support to the Freeman’s during this time. Kate noted that “people react differently to grief and tragedy” and the VNA Hospice House’s thoughtful setup gave the family the different spaces they needed to process this situation.

Summarizing it perfectly, Kate noted that the VNA Hospice House “let us be Freeman’s” and handle things their own way. The staff balanced giving the family the space they needed during such an emotionally charged experience while providing the care that Jack and the family needed. Kate and Bill believe that it would have been a challenge to find the space to do what they needed to do in a hospital setting, so they know they made the right decision to move Jack to the VNA Hospice House. And the family is grateful for this community resource. “All your donors gave us that gift,” Kate notes of being able to say goodbye to Jack in a way that was dignified and peaceful.

Through the generosity of our donors the VNA Hospice House was built and later renovated. And every year, our donors, understanding the importance of this facility, support the operation of the VNA Hospice House through donations to the VNA & Hospice Foundation. Our loyal donors are the reason that the Freemans, and so many other families, have the support and space they need during an emotional and challenging time. Supporting the VNA brings dignity, peace and compassion to patients and families experiencing end-of-life.

If you or someone you know is struggling, there are a variety of resources in our community. You can call The Mental Health Association (772-569-9788),  or The Mental Health Collaborative (772-217-3663) to get the support needed.