Skip to main content
Foundation story

'It takes a village'

Published on Monday February 12, 2024
Karen Yeeles and Caregivers

Grateful Patient Giving

Karen Yeeles is grateful for Centra’s strong continuum of care. She recently made a gift in honor of the excellent and compassionate care her brother received when he was diagnosed with cancer and needed additional support through Centra Hospice at the end of his life.

As the saying goes, “it takes a village,” said Karen Yeeles. “This is so true when caring for a loved one at the end of life.” 

Karen’s family found their ‘village’ through Centra. 

“My brother, David, was diagnosed at Centra Lynchburg General Hospital with terminal lung cancer last May, which had spread to his bones,” she said. “David received excellent care in the hospital, at the cancer center and in hospice.” 

One of David’s final wishes was to spend his last days at the family’s lake house on Smith Mountain Lake. With the help of Centra Hospice, his siblings were able to honor his wish. He received compassionate care at home, among family and in the place he loved.

“He entered Centra Bedford Hospice in early August and remained in their care until he passed away on October 6, 2023,” Karen said. “We could not have fulfilled David’s wish without the help and guidance we received from the entire hospice team, especially his nurse, Susan, and CNA, Sissy. I appreciated their knowledge, care, compassion and friendship.”

Karen Yeeles and Caregiver Susan Evans
Karen Yeeles embraces Caregiver Susan Evans at Centra Bedford Hospice House. She returned recently to thank them for their support. 

A grateful gift

After David’s funeral, with more time on her hands, Karen realized she wanted to make a gift through the Centra Foundation in appreciation of his extraordinary care. 

“I had a lot of time to think about David’s intense five-month cancer journey, especially the last two months while he was in hospice,” Karen said. “I made a donation in appreciation of Centra Hospice in Bedford and the Bedford community.”   

Centra Caregivers Susan Evans and Mary (Sissy) Parker “joined us on ‘Team David’ for David’s last few weeks. They were skilled, confident, experienced and professional, but they also added a caring personal dimension.”

In addition to caring for David’s physical needs, they asked how everyone was doing emotionally, “always concerned with everyone’s total well-being.”

“Every visit was meaningful,” Karen said. “I would tell him his team was coming and he would grumble and roll his eyes. In reality, I feel he looked forward to their visits. Although David was weak and in pain, he enjoyed teasing and joking with Susan and Sissy. I (and my family) will be forever grateful to Susan, Sissy and the entire hospice team.”

A beloved brother

David Yeeles was the eldest of five children. The family grew up in Northern Virginia but purchased a vacation home at Smith Mountain Lake in the early 80s.

“David loved the area so much he moved to Bedford about 30 years ago with his wife, Ruth, who was also in Bedford Hospice 10 years ago,” said Karen, who retired from the Department of Defense a few years ago. “He worked maintaining a factory, Brooks Food Group, in Bedford for most of that time.”

Karen remembers David as a loving brother with a good sense of humor. He was a member of a bluegrass and rock band that played throughout the area.  

She cherishes the time she was able to spend with him at the lake in his last days.

Continued gratitude

“Bedford and the surrounding communities are fortunate to have the Centra system,” Karen said. “I never felt like we were bothering anyone with our never-ending questions or concerns.”

The family is deeply appreciative that “each employee was extraordinary in their own way, making David feel special, taking their time with him and treating him as an individual, even though he was far from being the only one in their care.”  

Although it was not an easy journey, “I’m blessed to have had a great experience,” Karen said. “I wasn’t sure what to expect at the beginning of David’s journey with hospice, but I am grateful.”

Caregivers Susan and Sissy are thankful to have been a part of his journey.

“David was an absolutely beautiful soul,” Susan said. “I can't begin to describe how blessed I was to be able to care for him.”


Susan Evans, Karen Yeeles and Sissy Parker
Caregiver Susan Evans, Karen Yeeles, and Caregiver Sissy Parker

Have you or a loved one received excellent care at Centra? Learn more about Grateful Patient Giving or share your story in honor of your Caregiver(s). 

Make a gift