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May 17, 2018 06:15 PM

Ava's House By Sanford

Ava's House by Sanford has been welcoming patients and families with open arms for seven months. 

The hospice house became a reality thanks to the community and Sanford Health staff donations.

"My daughter was diagnosed with stage four nueroblastoma when she was just 18 months old and it's a really aggressive form of pediatric cancer, and she fought for three and a half years," Chrisie Funari said

Funari's daughter Ava spent most of her life in a hospital. 
 
That's why it was so important that Ava died somewhere that felt like a home.

"I wanted to have her not be scared in the hospital because where we were at was lots of noises and beeps and it was just very chaotic for a little five-year-old child," Funari said. 

Funari found a center in Arizona that she says made the tragedy of losing a child easier to bear.

"We just felt at home and comfortable. When she passed away the nurse was in there, our whole family was in there and it was actually peaceful," Funari said.

"While many people would perceive going into hospice as a sad thing, for her she had a brief moment where she could exhale," Joanne Moquist said. 

Moquist, Ava's great aunt, says losing Ava inspired her to pursue what is now Ava's House by Sanford, a multi-generational hospice center. 

Ava's House is one of four in the country to offer pediatric hospice care.

"There's very little awareness about the need for pediatric hospice because the good news is, not that many children die," Moquist said. 

Funding for pediatric hospice is minimal, which is why Moquist and her husband Ron became the lead donors. 

It now offers 20 adaptable rooms with an attached patio, laundry facilities and a chapel. 

"She would say you have to have comfortable chairs, that's the most important thing and families want to be close at hand sleeping next to their child," Moquist said.  

"To have something named after your daughter is amazing because as a mom, when you lose a child you think that they're going to be forgotten, and she's obviously not forgotten now," Funari said. 

Ava's House is currently raising funds for an operational endowment. 

If you'd like to donate, click here.

 

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