Hospice House staffers have a special calling

Hospice House staffers have a special calling

SLIDELL, LA (WVUE) - An ordinary house on the North Shore has an extraordinary purpose. Days are cherished and minutes count for occupants who don't have much time left. Kathy Busch gives a tour of the single-story home in Slidell.

"We have a really nice patio and backyard," she said.

It's the perfect home for welcoming guests. Perfect for beautiful goodbyes.

"Usually what they get when they come to the door is it's not what they expected. It's not a medical facility, not a nursing home. It's a home where people can feel comfortable. "

This is Hospice House.

"We only have three rooms, and they're all the same, just different colors. They all have a hospital bed and we try to decorate them a little bit," Busco said.

The house is a peaceful place for families to bond with loved ones in their last days.

"My husband's name is Bruce Baragona. He's a pushboat captain on the Mississippi River. He's been out there 40 odd years," said Robbi Baragona.

She wanted her love story with her husband Bruce to last forever.

"He was a rough and tough guy. He could do anything," she said.

He was her knight in shining armor  for 20 years. The breadwinner of the family as long as they've been together. Last July doctors told them he had six months to a year to live.

"They did a scan and it came back a metastasized advanced stage four squamous cell carcinoma," she said.

Doctors told Robbi that hospice was the only option for Bruce. But caring for him in the home they shared got harder for her to bear. She heard about Hospice House. Kathy Busco is executive director of the nonprofit that owns the house, the Hospice Foundation of the South.

"There's no charge for this. It truly is a help to people at a time in their lives when they don't know where else to turn," Busco said.

In the two years the house has been open, 80 families have come through.

Bruce Baragona has been in the house for a week.

"I'm thankful the way it came out that it can help my wife out," he said.

"We have situations where the wife has to work like Miss Robbie. She has to work and they can't be left alone," Busco said.

Durward Bernard's wife Lynn died at Hospice House in May. She was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor in 2012. Their young son, Rhett, is now 11 years old.

"I remember we used to go play racquetball in the front yard and she'd walk around with us. She was real nice," he said.

Durward said Lynn was expected to be in hospice a short amount of time, but was there for 11 months. She rallied at Hospice House. When she died, she was surrounded by loved ones in the warm home.

A crawfish cookoff in April is the home's major fundraiser. If you'd like to help keep the house going, click the link above.

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