BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. (KMSP) - Minnesota has wonderful healthcare, but there is one area some believe is severely lacking: hospice for children.
Later this year, Crescent Cove aims to open just the third children's hospice care facility in the country.
After watching her daughter die in a hospital, Christine O'Keefe believes hospice for kids is long overdue.
"I miss snuggling with her, she died in my arms," said O'Keefe. "She stared at me until I saw her pupils dilate and I knew she was gone."
Mary O'Keefe was just three-and-a-half years old when she died after being diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma. Seven years later, her mom grips the memories, and has learned to live with the guilt and the grief.
"Me, as a nurse, I failed as mother, I failed as nurse, I couldn't save her," said O'Keefe. "The harder I tried, the cancer was unstoppable."
O'Keefe describes that last month Mary was given to live was the hardest. While days were spent making Mary as happy as possible, playing games and doing crafts, Christine says what's missing from the University of Minnesota Children's Hospital and other hospitals across the state is a children's hospice program.
"That's the one thing that sticks with me every day, seeing the kids playing in the hallway and they are alive they are still here, and I can't bring her home with me," said O'Keefe. "I won't lie, I was jealous, defeated, just this emptiness leaving the university without my child. So that was hard to go home without her."
Crescent Cove is about to close on the purchase of this former adult hospice care facility nestled onto the north side of Twin Lake in Brooklyn Center. Over the next few months, it will be converted into what will be just the third children's hospice in the country. Six bedrooms with appropriate nursing staff and peaceful play areas for terminally ill kids, their parents and siblings can't come soon enough.
"Just on my way here I received a call from a mom who asked...her son is dying at home," said Katie Lindenfelser, Crescent Cove founder. "Families are desperate and need this home, so we'll do whatever we can to bring it to fruition."
The total cost to open this new facility is $5 million, and Crescent Cove still needs to raise $3 million. A foundation started in little Mary O'Keefe's honor is helping fundraise. The Mary Moon Foundation is hosting the Shoot for the Moon fundraiser at the Mall of American on March 4, which would have been her 11th birthday. For details go to: http://marymoonfoundation.org/
For more information about Crescent Cove go to: http://crescentcove.org/