Fairhaven Blog

Things of interest around Fairhaven.

Newport Beach Woman Honored for End of Life Care

- Monday, March 16, 2015

Arnetta Robinson, community relations liaison at Sea Crest Home Health and Hospice, is the March/April 2015 recipient of our Oliver Halsell Care Award.

“Close your eyes and imagine what your last day would look like.” This is the scenario Arnetta Robinson presents her patients on a daily basis. As community relations liaison, knowing how a person would like to spend his/her last day is as important to Robinson as memorializing the life they already lived.

With more than 20 years experience in the healthcare industry, Robinson began her career in outpatient physical therapy. But after her sister lost her 16-year battle with lupus in 2002, Robinson changed course and transitioned to hospice to help improve the quality of life for people battling terminal illnesses. She now spends her days traveling throughout Orange County to meet with patients and their families to discuss how they would like to live out their remaining days.

“Arnetta is dedicated to bringing comfort, compassion, and good quality care to patients and their families at one of the most difficult periods of their lives,” said Marla Noel, president of Fairhaven. “Her work is admirable and she truly serves from the heart, just as Oliver Halsell did more than a century ago.”

For Robinson, no patient request is too great. She recalls one man in Sea Crest’s cardiac program who loved hamburgers but couldn’t eat them for health reasons. After learning the man was terminal and near the end, Robinson drove to In-N-Out Burger to fulfill his dying request. Whether it’s a burger, flowers, chocolates or a party, Robinson assists in any way to ensure her patients finish out their lives in the best way possible. Making herself available to work any time, including nights and weekends, Robinson admits there is no separation between her personal and professional lives – the two are intertwined.

In addition to working for Sea Crest, Robinson also is Chairwoman of the Board for Pacific Hospice & Palliative Care Foundation, an organization created to provide patients with improved end of life care and families with bereavement services, despite any hardship they may be facing. Robinson also has a passion for working with people who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. She is an advocate for Alzheimer's Association, Orange County, is a POLST (Physicians' Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment) educator for the Orange County Aging Services Collaborative and a past chair of the Alzheimer's Family Service Center’s "A Gathering of Friends” gala.

In what little spare time Robinson has, she visits with friends and family, travels and raises awareness for hospice and pre-planning through her blog Hip Hospice Gal.

“It can be difficult for people to talk about death and dying,” said Robinson. “When people realize they’re dying, it’s scary. I do my best to help them work through their fear and get the conversation started.”

Robinson will be honored at Fairhaven’s Oliver Halsell Care Awards banquet in November at Fairhaven’s Mission Viejo location. The banquet honors a year’s worth of achievements within the local community. Additionally, Fairhaven will make a donation on her behalf to her selected charity, Pacific Hospice & Palliative Care Foundation.

We are currently accepting nominations for the 2015 Oliver Halsell Care Awards. For more information and to nominate a deserving candidate, click here or send us an email

A Movie is Worth a Million Words

- Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A picture is worth a thousand words, and in this day of technology, a movie is worth so much more. With the New Year upon us, creating a movie of your loved one may be the perfect way to commemorate his or her life, and a great way to capture memories that can be replayed for years to come.

A few years ago, I was fortunate to be able to have a professional company videotape my parents. Initially, Mom and Dad were uncomfortable with this process. However, the woman, Mary Ann Osness from CorElAnn Video Productions spoke gently as she interviewed my parents, helping them to relax. She asked about where they grew up, how they met and many other questions.

During my father’s funeral service, we played the movie; my nephew read a eulogy; and my sister, niece and a few close friends spoke. I couldn’t have talked without sobbing, and didn’t try. After the service, many commented on how much they appreciated seeing the movie. The video of my father brought tears to everyone’s eyes and even a few chuckles when my father made humorous comments.

On the recording, my father talked about how he met – and courted – my mother. Few people in the audience knew what a true romantic my father was. He talked about a vacation we’d experienced and many other memories. My father talked for maybe ten wonderful minutes, which we shared with those who attended his funeral.

We will have this video of my father to show great-great-grandchildren someday, along with the pictures, of which there are many. But a movie with my father talking, his mannerisms, his voice, the way he used his hands to emphasize what he was saying and his sense of humor, is so much more meaningful. This movie is a precious memory.

I have suggested this type of movie to others. One of my friends who had just months to live came to me to pre-arrange her funeral. She followed my suggestion and made a movie with Mary Ann. In her video, she talked about so many things; about her vacations, her community involvement, and the many aspects of her life of which her children weren’t aware. She started several organizations and helped so many people. She was truly an inspiring woman. She did not brag or boast, but talked about the things she enjoyed.

The woman’s children were in their early twenties, too young for children of their own. They will be able to share her with their children and those who follow, because she knew how precious a movie would be for them. A picture is worth a thousand words, and a movie, so much more.

No Regrets, Please

- Friday, June 20, 2014

Regret. It’s one of life’s most uncomfortable, and sometimes painful, emotions. When we wish we had done something differently, but can’t go back and change it, we are likely to feel regret. In my position here at Fairhaven, I frequently encounter people that feel regretful. Perhaps most common is the feeling that they have not spent enough time with a loved one.

But another whole category of regret involves decisions people wish they had made earlier in life. For example, I encounter widows who wish they had taken time to understand their finances before their husbands passed away. I meet widowers who regret putting off trips they always talked about, but never found time to take before their wives became ill.  For some, the regret involves not moving to a retirement community, or just downsizing into a smaller, more manageable home. The list goes on and on.

The lesson learned here is that we should not wait too long to make decisions that will shape the last years of our lives. Perhaps the best time to evaluate these decisions is when retirement is looming. This is the time when questions need to be raised about what you -- as a couple or an individual -- want to do in the years ahead. Where will you live? Is your estate plan set? Will your heirs have a huge tax burden because you didn’t do enough estate planning? Are there trips on your bucket list? Are you working with advisors to guide your decisions -- an attorney, CPA and financial advisor?

Of course, I also hear regret related to not planning ahead for funerals.  People who take the time to talk among themselves, including with their adult children, are usually much less stressed when the time comes for the arrangements. Naturally, they are grieving, but much of the stress is gone.

Many people find it difficult to talk about death, especially their own. I’ve found that conversations about funeral pre-planning are naturally prompted by attending a funeral. Actually, any ceremony, even a wedding, can lead to these kinds of conversations. And these conversations are so useful, resolving issues such as do I want to have a ground burial, entombment or cremation? Do I want a large or intimate ceremony? Do I have a passion or hobby that can be added to the arrangements that fits my own personality? For example, I have a collection of fine wines and I’ve made it known I’d like the collection to be opened and enjoyed at my funeral. Without my planning in advance, I doubt anyone would know this was my intention. But now that I’ve planned, I’m sure my farewell will be the kind of party that I, personally, would enjoy – with friends and family swapping stories and fabulous wines  flowing. 

Whenever you are ready to consider funeral pre-planning, feel free to visit our website for a little help: http://www.fairhavenmemorial.com/learn/advance-planning.htm 

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