In keeping with a 23-year tradition, a special Christmas tree will stand
tall in the lobby of the
E. Brent Dufreche Conference Center on the
North Oaks Medical Center campus through Jan. 6, 2016.
From each sturdy branch hangs an ornament selected and placed with care
by the loved ones of a
North Oaks Hospice patient in his or her memory at a special gathering held Dec. 3. Its trunk
is wrapped in a skirt hand-crafted by the late Christine Verdross, a Hospice
volunteer, to depict the star map in Bethlehem at the time of Jesus’ birth.
This “Memory Tree” is offered to support family members and
caregivers of former patients as part of the North Oaks Hospice Bereavement
Program. Each former patient’s family members and caregivers receive
bereavement support following the patient’s passing.
Evelyn Jones of Hammond attended the gathering in memory of her late husband
Jacob “Jake” Jones, who passed away at the age of 88 in October
2015 due to a heart condition. With her daughter-in-law Karie Jones of
Lacombe and Hospice Bereavement Counselor Sr. June Engelbrecht at her
side, Evelyn picked the perfect branch to secure a clear bulb with a lighted
snowman inside in Jake’s memory.
“You can’t help but smile when you see a snowman and lights,”
Evelyn remarked, adding that the ornament called to mind happy memories
of her nearly 61-year marriage to Jake.
Despite the loss of her husband, Evelyn shared that it was a relief to
have Hospice help with his care, speaking candidly of the toll being his
primary caregiver was taking on her. “I was tired and sick with
stress,” she commented.
“Hospice’s health care professionals and volunteers helped
to make Jake’s final days as comfortable as possible and supported
us with vital education about what to expect,” Evelyn explained.
“They made countless visits and were always there when we needed
On a nearby branch hangs an ornament in memory of Hilary Hutchinson of
Head of Island. His daughter, Cathy Cullen of Hammond, pictured below,
explains that it was hand-painted by her friend and coworker, Kristi Bourgeois.
It represents her father’s love of deer hunting, a favorite pastime
at his Wilson camp throughout much of his 85 years.
Hutchinson entered Hospice care in the end stages of Chronic Obstructive
Pulmonary Disease and passed away in April 2015. Despite his prognosis,
Cullen describes her father’s time in Hospice as “the most
comfortable she had seen him in ages.”
“The staff has this ability to remember everything about your situation,”
notes Cullen. “Having Hospice helps you through it.“
Hospice is a special kind of care given in a home setting that provides
support in a sensitive manner for patients with a life-limiting, progressive
illness. The North Oaks Hospice team focuses on the patient’s emotional,
physical and spiritual needs and emphasizes the importance of the patient’s
quality of life.
North Oaks Hospice consistently ranks in the top 1 percent nationally for
patient and family experience, according to national, independent Press
If you know someone coping with a life-limiting illness who may benefit
from Hospice care, call the North Oaks Hospice office at (985) 230-7620
for a complimentary consultation with no obligation. Clickhere for answers to frequently asked questions about Hospice care.