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Last year at this time I was enjoying the holidays and eagerly anticipating my family reunion in New Orleans to be held over the Christmas-New Year's break. It had been several years since all my siblings and maternal cousins (who are spread all over this country) had been together to catch up and party in the "Big Easy." With the almost total passing of my mother's generation, the ties that bound us all to New Orleans were slowly unraveling, and we wanted to be sure to pass on to our children the love of our "home place." In previous years, a trip to New Orleans was an annual pilgrimage-not only to rejuvenate family bonds, eat a truckload of boiled crayfish, crabs, and shrimp, but to also connect with a culture and way of life that I feel strongly attached to even though I haven't lived there since I was 2 years old.


This holiday season brings with it the realization that although the past will truly be gone-with new bricks, mortar, and landscape features-the heart of New Orleans continues in its people, and in me. Houses have been destroyed, but the feeling of home is still there within the local communities and individual neighborhoods where neighbors know their neighbors, worry about each other's safety, and are pulling together to rebuild.


Even though I am no longer a direct care provider, my home care genes have never diminished or gone away; they are a part of me. I have always wondered what makes nurses take their careers in certain directions and not others. I may never know the answer, but I do know that we home care and hospice clinicians understand and appreciate the need for our patients to want to stay at home to heal, and in some cases, to die peacefully in an environment that is warm, close, and familiar. We understand the bonds that keep people staying in a home that might not be perfect, but it is where they feel safe.


And so it was natural to note that in the hours following the news of the horrible destruction and tragedy in New Orleans and the Mississippi coast, I noted e-mails from home care colleagues talking about the need to plan to rally clinicians and prepare a list of staff who could assist those destroyed agencies and their stranded patients as soon as time and circumstances would allow. The most heartwarming aspect of that appeal is that our industry-home care-responded immediately, at least when compared to the other nursing and medical listserves of which I am a subscriber. I was so proud of my colleagues and their compassion and leadership during a crisis. This is not a rebuke to other nursing specialties, but only a validation of what we already know-that we in home care have a genuine desire to keep our patients at home and that the sense of commitment and ties within our profession are as strong as are our bonds with our friends and neighbors.