When a patient expressed disappointment to her nurse that her illness had prevented her from celebrating Christmas Eve at home, the staff at Peggy’s House sprang into action and created Christmas in February, complete with a tree and a visit from Santa. The idea came from Jean Doyle, RN, who was attending to the needs of Liz K.*, who died on February 10, a week after the holiday celebration.

Liz had come to Peggy’s House in Scotch Plains in late January after several hospitalizations that kept her and her family from their yearly tradition of having Christmas at their East Brunswick home. She told Doyle, her nurse, about how she’d missed it and in no time, the residence’s staff got to work planning the day.

The main atrium, already decorated for Valentine’s Day, was completely redecorated for Christmas. The tree was erected with lights and ornaments, gifts and food appeared, and Rich Rager (whose wife, Nancy Rager, is the Center’s Director of Residential Services) got on his Santa costume to help celebrate the season. Liz, her husband Michael, their children and guests joined Peggy’s House staff on Saturday, February 3 for the festivities. Liz passed away one week later, but the Peggy’s House staff created a lasting memory for Liz’s family and all involved.

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“She rose to the occasion and took it all in,” said Doyle.“She loved every minute of it. When I asked her if she had a good day, she told me, ‘It was an amazing day.’”

Rich Broski, communications director for Center for Hope Hospice, created a moving video chronicling the heartwarming story. In less than 24 hours after posting the video to the Center’s Facebook page, it was shared 26 times and viewed over 1200 times. The video is also on YouTube at http://bit.ly/ChristmasinFeb.

“We’re so proud of how everyone came together to create something so wonderful for Liz and her family,” said Frank Brady, President of the Center for Hope. “This is just one more example of how hospice care, in its truest form, provides comfort to patients at the end of their lives and can bring meaning to them and their loved ones, even at the most difficult times.”

Center for Hope Hospice & Palliative Care is a non-profit, community based organization that provides terminally ill patients with hospice care, and their families or loved ones with physical, emotional, and spiritual support during their time of need. The Center actively supports the individual's right to live out the remainder of their life with dignity and in comfort, surrounded by the love of family and friends, and eased from the burdens of physical, emotional, spiritual, financial or social distress.​ Center for Hope welcomes all terminally ill patients, their families and loved ones without concern for race, ethnicity, religious affiliation or ability to pay. It also offers pain and symptom management for chronically ill and seriously ill patients through its palliative care program. 

The Center for Hope Hospice offers nearly $3 million a year in hospice and palliative care at Peggy’s House and Father Hudson House in Elizabeth, as well as in patients’ homes and other medical and long-term care settings. For more information, visit www.cfhh.org or call 908-889-7780.