First-of-its-Kind Hospice Center Experiences Its Own First

After eight years of careful planning, Regional Hospice and Home Care’s Center for Comfort Care & Healing became the first and only all-private-suite facility of its kind in Connecticut.  The pride of this accomplishment was honored this past February when the Center welcomed its first patient – a story that will leave an indelible impression on the history of the Center.

On that February day when the hospice first opened, the 12-suite, 36,000-square foot, stand-alone, nonprofit facility was polished, decorated and ready to accept patients. Though its healing gardens and walking paths had yet to bloom, they were just a season away from their full splendor. The children’s rooms filled with books, video games and crayons lay quietly waiting to welcome its youngest visitors. Its 100+ employees were ready and eager to accept what they anticipate will be 1,200 patients every year.

A First for CT’s First and Only

On February 17, 2015, Thomas Jeffress came through the front door.

Thomas was a jazz musician who had performed with the likes of Ray Charles and Joe Tex. He also played for President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Princess Grace of Monaco while serving as a musician on the Aircraft Carrier SS Forrestal in the Navy during the Korean War.

Thomas held a Master’s in Psychology and enjoyed a long career helping others as a counselor for the Mental Health Association of CT.  He married is soul mate, Irene, and raised his family in Bethel, Conn.

It was in the fall of 2014 that Thomas and Irene while on a much-deserved vacation to Virginia, that he suffered a severe stroke.  Thomas spent three months in hospitals in Virginia and Washington, D.C and was told by doctors there that he wouldn’t survive infections or surgeries or ever make it back to his home in Bethel.

A Return to Home

Eventually, Thomas did make it back to his beloved Connecticut with one ardent hope – to spend his final days at a new Center his wife had heard was about to open. “He waited at the VA Hospital in New Haven until your doors opened for us,” says Irene.

Irene continues, “The Center is a very special place. Everyone was so positive and loving. I wanted this for my husband.  The morning he died, even the nurses who weren’t on duty came in to be with us. They honored Tom for his service to our country, many of them came to his funeral, they thought of everything.”

When Thomas died at the Center on February 21, 2015, he marked the end of a remarkable life and an incredible new beginning for Regional Hospice and Home Care’s Center for Comfort Care & Healing.  He was the first that Connecticut’s first and only all-private suite facility will never forget.

Learn more about Regional Hospice and Home Care’s in-home services and the new Center at regionalhospicect.org. Arrange for a visit by calling 203-702-7400.

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