Unique Hospice Services Provide Meaning and Memories

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VNA Health Group

Unique Hospice Services Provide Meaning and Memories

This article first appeared in our House Calls Newsletter. Download it here.


VNA Health Group’s hospice program provided comfort and care to more than 4,000 patients last year and helped countless more through our wide range of supportive hospice and bereavement services. These services helped patients and their families find meaning, well-being and create memories during what is undoubtedly one of the most difficult times of their lives. Whether patients elected to receive one of our complementary therapies such as Music, Pet and Reiki, pursued a dream through our Final Wishes program, or gained a lasting memento through our Memory Bears program, our work benefits patients and families beyond medical care.


Transforming Clothing into a Lasting Memento


Twins Jimmy (l) and Ava (r) are Ellen Rubino’s grandchildren and Michelle Rubino’s nephew and niece. They enjoy cuddling with the Memory Bears handcrafted from Michelle’s clothing.


Eileen Rubino learned about our Memory Bears program after the passing of her daughter Michelle. The program which is sustained through donations and volunteers, transforms favorite garments into cuddly stuffed animals. Mrs. Rubino brought in her daughter’s favorite pajamas and our volunteers quickly went to work with their needles and threads to carefully handcraft two teddy bears out of the pajama fabric.


In a note of appreciation, Mrs. Rubino wrote, “These bears are so special to us. Not that I need a reminder, but just holding, touching and yes hugging my bear brings Michelle closer to me. I look at my bear and visualize her wearing those pajamas. Each unique bear I know was made with love and talent. There aren’t enough or correct words to express my unending thanks to you all. You are truly angels.”


Creating Lasting Memories


Pictured in the center is Mr. Striggles, with his wife,
son and grandsons.


In November, the Striggles family gathered together with Barnabas Health Hospice social worker Betty Jampel, LCSW to discuss our services and the conversation drifted to their multigeneration history as African Americans. She discovered that the patient, Mr. Striggles wanted to see The Birth of a Nation, a film that was in theaters at the time, but not yet available through other channels. Betty approached Megan Knight, Director of Development at Barnabas Health Home Care and Hospice and who oversees the Final Wishes program to determine if we could help. Megan contacted Fox Searchlight Pictures in Hollywood and asked them to donate a special screening of the film.


By the end of that day, the studio approved the request and created a one-time license for a private screening at the Striggles home in Irvington. A few days later, Barnabas Health Hospice staff setup a projector and screen in the family’s living room and viewed the film together with the family. The Striggles family expressed their gratitude for everyone who came together to fulfill a final wish.


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