The Haugen Family

The Haugen Family

Faith and Healing

When Debra Haugen passed away from ovarian cancer, her family honored her life and her passion for the health care ministry by creating a tribute fund in her name.


Debra Haugen always had a passion for health care and faith. During college, one of her professors discussed the concept of “body, mind and spirit” working together. But it wasn’t until she was an established nurse that she learned she could combine her love of healing with her love of God. Through the Advocate Parish Nursing program first developed at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, Debra became a parish nurse (now called faith community nurse).

In her new role, Debra was able to develop programs that nurture the human spirit through health education, spiritual support, and linking the needs of the whole person to resources within the congregation, community and the health care system. The highlight of her 18-year career as a parish nurse was planning and participating in women’s spiritual retreats.

“Parish nursing changed Deb’s life and our family’s,” says her high school sweetheart turned husband Pat Haugen. “It was something she was so passionate about and it allowed my kids and me to get involved.”

In November 2009 Debra was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Despite living an hour away in Aurora, Deb chose to be treated at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital—where she felt comfortable and knew she would get the care and compassion she needed.

“Our family was so grateful to Advocate for the support Deb received as a parish nurse and also as a patient,” says Pat. “We were especially grateful to Dr. James Dolan. He is a phenomenal human being and a great specialist.”

Debra passed away in April 2011, surrounded by family. Pat and their kids knew they wanted their mother’s passion and joy to live on. Pat contacted Advocate to see how they could give back to the program that was so near and dear to Debra. The Debra Haugen Parish Nurse Tribute Fund was established to honor her memory and the legacy she help create within the nursing ministry. Gifts from family, friends and colleagues support the professional and personal growth of current and future parish nurses.

“It means so much to our family that we can touch others in a way that would make Deb proud,” says Pat. “It is a way for us to thank Advocate for supporting Deb throughout her career and her care.”