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Longtime Nurse Builds Hospice House in Noblesville

Photographer: Amy Payne

On April 15, 1998, Holly France’s mother entered hospice care and passed away fewer than 24 hours later. Though the experience was a whirlwind, France still has fond, peaceful memories of that day because the hospice nurse took gentle care of both France’s mother and the loved ones surrounding her. The experience sparked a desire in France to one day become a hospice nurse herself.

“I was a young nurse at the time, fresh into my career and I recognized that I couldn’t be any good in hospice until I had experienced life — gotten further in my career, become a mom and grown in my faith,” France says.

France’s husband, Tim, flips houses. Typically, he does his thing and she does hers, and their careers never collide. Last year, however, Tim bought a house in Noblesville — one that he took down to the studs following a fire. One day he asked his wife for her input on the floor plan. She offered it, and a few months later he suggested she turn the renovated structure into her hospice house.

“I was stunned because the house hadn’t been on my radar for years, but this seemed like the right time,” says France, who named it the Psalm 51 House after France’s favorite Bible passage.

It can accommodate up to three patients and will be staffed 24/7 so that patients’ needs will be met round the clock. Though France, who is considered the “house manager” will be the primary caregiver, she has several people who have offered to help, all who work in the healthcare field.

The house is located adjacent to France’s home, making logistics easier since she has a 15-year old daughter.

“This way I can still be a mom but also have quick access to the hospice house,” she says.

France has been a nurse for 22 years, having spent 17 of them at Riverview Hospital, mostly in the recovery room and pre-op area. She transitioned to home/hospice care a year and a half ago. During that time, she often saw patients in assisted or independent living who had no support because all of their children lived out of town. As a result, they had nobody to care for them.

“Hospice is sometimes a ‘right now’ situation,” France says. “People will get a terminal diagnosis and need to figure out pretty fast what they’re going to do.”

That’s why France is thrilled to be opening Psalm 51 House. She sees it — and hospice, in general — as a ministry. When she first started working in hospice/home care, she kept getting called out to the same home. One day the patient’s weary wife asked France, “How much longer can this go on?”

“I thought, ‘God, am I supposed to be doing something here?’” recalls France. “It was my door opening to ask her about their faith. Though the woman was a believer, her husband was not.

“I told her that maybe this was a good time to talk to him about accepting Christ,” France says. “I could tell she was very uneasy with that.”

A few weeks later, France returned to the man’s home. This time he was unconscious. France’s voice quivered as she asked the man, “Do you know that Christ is your Lord and Savior?” As the words fell from her lips, the man’s daughter entered the room and shared with France that her dad had accepted Christ into his heart three days prior.

“It was confirmation that the Lord was taking care of things,” says France, who has since had other opportunities to bring people to God, including a 96-year-old man. The most gratifying part of being a hospice care worker, according to France, is being able to alleviate families’ fears.

“Sometimes I might be there for several hours just educating families about medications,” she says. “Other times I’m telling them about the stages of death and explaining all of the different things that could happen. When I walk out of that home, the patient is peaceful, the family is peaceful. It’s a great feeling.”

April 16 marked the 20-year anniversary of when France first felt a calling to pursue this line of work.

“The hospice bug bit me two decades ago,” France says. “I’m excited to see this dream through.”

For more information, contact Holly France at 317-402-8319.

 

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