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Taking care of caregivers

Anyone who has spent time caring for a seriously ill loved one knows how hard it can be. Caregivers often feel stressed and isolated, and tend to forget to take care of themselves in the process.

That’s why in 2007 Marian Hamilton established the Ken Hamilton Caregivers Center at Northern Westchester Hospital. She wanted to provide caregivers a peaceful sanctuary and a compassionate space — something she wished she had during her husband Ken’s terminal illness.

Offering families encouragement and resources

“The Ken Hamilton Caregivers Center has been a great blessing for me,” says Mary Ann Esposito of North Salem, New York. She was introduced to the center by her parents, who used the space to talk and relax during her brother’s three-month hospital stay. 

Later, when her husband was hospitalized, Mary Ann also turned to the center as a lifeline. Social workers and well-trained volunteers provided Mary Ann encouragement, support and resources as she made difficult decisions. A massage chair in a private room allowed her to de-stress. Healthy snacks refueled her for the long days.

quotation mark The Ken Hamilton Caregivers Center has been a great blessing for me.
Mary Ann Esposito

“My husband, Peter, has been sick for 11 years,” Mary Ann says, “and I cannot express how wonderful the volunteers who staff the center have been to me. It’s so comforting to have someone there who is nonjudgmental and will help you in every way. I can call and ask questions, and they provide the resources I need. Every two to three weeks they call to check up on me, and I attend the monthly support meetings. Sometimes I just go there to sit and relax because it’s so peaceful.

“It’s a wonderful service, and I hope it catches on in other hospitals.”

Expanding to help more families

The expansion Mary Ann wishes for has already begun, with 13 hospitals around the country adding centers through the Caregivers Center Replication Program. Two recent $250,000 gifts from donors Michael and Patricia Koizim and Michael and Linda Donovan will ensure that the center continues to provide the support that thousands of families have come to depend upon during the most difficult times in their lives. 

“Caregiving is a tough enough job without doing it alone,” says Mary Ann. “The center is a place you can go and realize, 'It’s not just me,’ and get the support you need. They encourage you, telling you, ‘You’re doing a great job.’” 

Mary Ann calls the Ken Hamilton Caregivers Center “a godsend” and hopes to some day give back by volunteering there herself.

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