November 16, 2020
Those of us who have experienced the gift of hospice know this compassionate care isn’t about dying. It’s about living fully until the very last breath.
Over the past three years, Ava’s House by Sanford has brought that gift to more than 1,000 patients and their families.
Ava’s House, an acute-level, inpatient hospice facility in Sioux Falls, provides 24-hour nursing care to patients of all ages in a home-like environment.
The common area at Ava’s House gives families a place to gather and feel at home.
It ensures patients and families have a comforting place to turn when symptoms and pain are beyond the scope of care provided in the hospital, long-term care facilities or in-home settings.
The reach of Ava’s House extends beyond our region. While the majority of patients have called Sioux Falls home, families have come from 18 other states.
Honoring its namesake, Ava, who passed away at 4 years old after a courageous battle against cancer, Ava’s House also offers inpatient pediatric hospice. Five pediatric patients have received care at Ava’s House.
Beyond those numbers are countless family members, caregivers, volunteers and donors who have been touched by the mission of Ava’s House.
Here are some of their stories:
“The staff at Ava’s House did a truly amazing job providing comfort and peace to our family during a very difficult time. I cannot imagine what we would have done without their guiding hands leading us along this journey. We will always be indebted to them for their loving care and compassion.”
—Scott Abdallah, son of Ava’s House patient Gene Abdallah
“Having a loved one in hospice has to be one of the toughest things a family can go through. Choosing Ava’s House was the best possible thing we could have done for our family. The facility and caregivers made an unbearable situation bearable, a potentially undignified end-of-life scenario dignified and a likely uncomfortable experience comfortable.”
—Mike Daly, son-in-law of Ava’s House patient Ken Sorlie
“I believe how we die is equally as important as how we lived our life. The last few months and weeks of the life need to be dignified, pain-free and comfortable. That’s close to my heart.”
—Dr. Thavam Thambi-Pillai, Ava’s House donor and Sanford surgeon
“I don’t think many people realize how special Ava’s House is. Right here in Sioux Falls, we have a facility that not only cares for adults but is only matched in its ability to provide pediatric hospice care by a few other places in the nation! We have access to a beautiful, highly functional, amazingly staffed ‘home away from home.’”
—Karen Asfeldt, Ava’s House donor, volunteer and daughter of patient Norris Meland
“Ava’s House is not a place we should think of as where people go to die. It’s a place where people come to live with as much peace, joy and comfort as possible.”
—Dr. Larry Fenton, Ava’s House donor and Sanford palliative care physician
History of Ava’s House
Ava spent most of her young life courageously fighting stage 4 neuroblastoma, a rare form of childhood cancer. She was diagnosed at 18 months old and spent more than three years in and out of clinics across the country.
Eventually, as Ava’s fragile body began to shut down, her family brought her to a pediatric hospice facility near their home in Arizona. The staff at the in-patient child-focused hospice facility embraced the 4-year-old and her family during her final days.
It was through the heartache of Ava’s passing that her great aunt and uncle, Joanne and Ron Moquist, found inspiration to make a significant lead gift to the Gift of Time campaign, inspiring the name Ava’s House.
Like the Moquists, hundreds of other community members saw the need for a multigenerational in-patient hospice facility that brought the acute level care available only in a hospital setting into a more home-like environment.
Together, they raised $10 million to support the construction of the hospice house. In October 2017, Ava’s House officially opened its doors.
Creating a legacy
Even as Ava’s House continues to give the gifts of time, compassion and love to more patients and families, our fundraising efforts haven’t stopped.
Your gift today will support a $5 million endowment to sustain the exceptional, comprehensive patient care and services that make Ava’s House the special place it is, including spiritual care, Child Life, patient assistance and expert caregiving.
To learn more about supporting the future of Ava’s House, please contact a member of our team: