Ken Sorlie was a salt of the earth, hardworking and humble Midwesterner, and more than anything, he wanted to live out his life in dignity and comfort, surrounded by his family.
Because of Ava’s House by Sanford, a state-of-the-art hospice facility that opened last October in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Sorlie was able to reach that goal.
“Having a loved one in hospice has to be one of the toughest things a family can go through,” said Mike Daly, Sorlie’s son-in-law and a senior public affairs specialist at Sanford Health. “Choosing Ava’s House was the best possible thing we could have done for Ken and our family.
“The facility and caregivers made an unbearable situation bearable, a potentially undignified end-of-life scenario dignified and a likely uncomfortable experience comfortable.”
Through his work at Sanford Health, Daly had shared the mission of Ava’s House across the region, but he never imagined his family would come to know the facility personally just a month after the first patients crossed its threshold.
“The facility was first class, welcoming, comfortable and functional,” Daly said. “The attached family room allowed us to have family members in the suite 24/7 for the 21 days of his stay. The community areas were perfect and allowed us to find periods of respite when we needed.”
Sorlie was able to live his final days in a home-like setting surrounded by photos of his family and a perfectly placed picture of a lake, a view similar to one from his beloved lake home. The family celebrated Thanksgiving together at Ava’s House, enjoying a fully catered holiday feast in the Orion Foods Gathering Space.
“Our family had never experienced more compassionate, professional and personal care as was given to Ken by every member of the staff,” Daly said. “They treated him like he was their own father or grandfather.”
Sorlie passed away on Dec. 2 at 92 years old in dignity and comfort, surrounded by his family — just as he had wished.
“We were allowed to spend all the time we wanted and needed as we said our final goodbyes by Ken’s bedside and prayers in the Beacom Chapel,” Daly said. “We were able to leave Ava’s House in peace, knowing that as a family we ‘did it right.'”
Ava’s House would not be here today without the generosity of donors who contributed to the $10 million construction phase of the Gift of Time campaign. Now that the state-of-the-art hospice facility is complete, community members have the chance to shape its legacy and extend the gifts of time, compassion and love to generations of patients and families.
Gifts support the patient care and services that make Ava’s House the special place it is, including spiritual care, Child Life, patient assistance and expert caregiving. Learn more about the fundraising effort.
About Sanford Health Foundation
The Sanford Health Foundation is the fundraising arm of Sanford Health. Gifts of all types and sizes support everything involved in the daily work of healing patients, including staff education, technology and non-billed services like social work, nurse navigation and spiritual care.