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Mike Hogan

The Hogan Family: Finding Peace at Villa Marie Claire

Holy Name Patient Stories - Mike Hogan

Geraldine Hogan told her husband Dennis and her son Michael when she came to Villa Marie Claire in 2017 that she finally felt comfortable and safe, and that she didn’t want to go anywhere else.

“She felt serenity there,” Dennis said. “After being in and out of hospitals for so long, it was a welcome change for her.”

Geraldine was originally diagnosed with breast cancer when Michael was five years old. She beat the disease and was in remission for thirteen years. Sadly, around the time that Michael was entering college, Geraldine’s cancer returned. She received treatment for several years, but by 2017 the family and the medical team they were working with determined that further intervention wouldn’t be beneficial. Dennis and Michael wanted to find a place for Geraldine to stay that would provide her with comfort and the best possible care.

The first residential hospice center Geraldine went to could not properly care for her specific needs, which included a feeding tube and carefully administered medication. Dennis learned about Villa Marie Claire from an acquaintance who is a nurse, who told him she’d heard nothing but good things about the facility. There, the Hogans found a caring staff and a calm atmosphere that finally put Geraldine, and her loved ones, more at ease.

Dr. Charles Vialotti, Villa Marie Claire’s resident medical director, stresses that the staff at the Villa are there to support both patients and their families. The goal is to “embrace them in a cocoon of gentleness and patience,” he says, giving residents control over their physical and psychological symptoms and encouraging them to communicate openly with their loved ones. Dr. Vialotti said that they often see patients relax significantly when they know that their loved ones have support and resources available to them.

Dr. Vialotti remembers Geraldine’s warmth, and how she never expressed resentment or anger while at the Villa. “She really was an inspiration: her courage, her commitment and her kindness,” he said.

At Villa Marie Claire, Geraldine had a quiet, private room that Dennis and Michael were able to decorate and personalize to make her feel comfortable. Dennis, who is retired, stayed with his wife around the clock, and close friends and family members visited Geraldine often. The environment was one of peace and reflection.

Michael was finishing up his college education while still making sure that he spent as much time with his mother as possible. The nurses and staff at the care facility were conscientious and supportive, letting him know when Geraldine was resting or bathing so he could spend some time in Villa Marie Claire’s library to study. He would also visit an outdoor area at the Villa with a fountain and brick walkway to take a breath and find a quiet moment for himself.

“They treated us like family,” Dennis said. He and Michael developed a close relationship with Dr. Vialotti that continues to this day.

Geraldine passed away in September 2017, about six weeks after she came to Villa Marie Claire. Michael and Dennis visit the Villa often, whether to honor Geraldine’s birthday or the date of her passing, or just to check in with Dr. Vialotti. The brick walkway around the fountain where Michael was able to center himself has new bricks dedicated to his mother.

To schedule a tour or for more information, please visit https://villamarieclaire.org or call 551-248-4800 or email vmcinfo@holyname.org.