May 7, 2020

Stephen J. Pustai shares his reasons for making a gift to support these compassionate care rooms at St. Joe’s

With reverence and in remembrance of his late wife, Barbara, Stephen J. Pustai is making it possible for St. Joe’s to provide compassionate end-of-life care for more patients. From personal experience, he knows that high-quality palliative care can make all the difference not only to the patient, but to their family and loved ones.

It was in 2015, after more than 65 years of marriage, that Stephen’s beloved wife, Barbara, passed away. The Pustai family was very grateful that her palliative care provided much comfort during a difficult time. Because it helped so much, Stephen made a gift to help St. Joe’s provide exceptional end-of-life care for patients and their families.


Stephen J. Pustai and his late wife, Barbara.

Currently St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton’s Charlton Campus has four palliative or special care suites. These private patient rooms with ensuite bathrooms offer enhanced patient privacy and dignity. The rooms also have chairs that transform into beds for friends and family who may wish to stay by their loved one’s side. With thoughtful décor and amenities that provide a more home-like environment, these rooms help to reduce feelings of fear and anxiety and provide a sense of comfort during the end-of-life stages.

Our Hospital and our Foundation want to provide as many special suites as needed and Stephen’s most recent donation of $50,000 is helping to make that goal a reality. “Originally, I planned for St. Joe’s to receive this gift through my Will,” explains Stephen. “But after Barbara’s passing, I realized this donation could really help the Hospital now. Because of that, I brought the gift forward to make sure that other families can have the benefits of these wonderful rooms, sooner.”


(left to right) Dana Visocchi Rice, Vice President, Development, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Foundation; Stephen’s son, Kevin Pustai; Lisa Gonnering, Manager, Estate & Gift Planning, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Foundation; Stephen J. Pustai; Sera Filice-Armenio, CEO & President, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Foundation; Karen Baguley, Nurse Manager of the Lung and Chest Unit and Jacob Rushton, Nurse Practitioner for Thoracic Surgery​.

Thanks to Stephen’s generosity, St. Joe’s can enhance the amenities that help our Palliative Care Team provide their unique care. Stephen and his son Ken attended a celebration of our gratitude with the unveiling of a recognition plaque in a special care suite in the Lung and Chest Unit located on the fourth floor of the Juravinski Innovation Tower at our Charlton Campus.


“Having this suite in our unit has been a huge asset to the care we provide,” says Karen Baguley, Nurse Manager of the Lung and Chest Unit. “It helps patients to spend precious time with their families in a comfortable space. While the room’s size and amenities make it feel more like home, patients are still close to and supported by our inter-professional team to receive much needed compassionate care. We are very grateful to have this special space. It makes an immense difference to patients, families and staff during the most difficult of times.”

This act of helping others through difficult times is so characteristic of Stephen. After the sudden loss of his 35-year-old son, Rob, back in 1991, Stephen turned a personal tragedy into inspiration for thousands of people by writing a book about
his family’s journey, struggles, and memories. Entitled Dreams Can Come True, Stephen’s book and his numerous public speaking opportunities have encouraged many to triumph over adversity.

Stephen has helped many others in his career of more than 65 years with Freedom 55 and now, at the grand age of 89, he continues his attentive service to clients. Stephen was recognized in his profession as a Director and Member for Life of the Million Dollar Round Table. His connection with St. Joe’s has spanned more than 30 years with sponsorships of our gala, generous annual gifts, bringing his colleagues and friends along to our golf tournaments and more.

St. Joseph’s Healthcare Foundation is grateful for our longstanding relationship with Stephen. His most recent donation to support our Hospital’s special care suites is a lasting tribute to the love of his life.

For more information about making a planned gift to our Hospital, please contact Lisa Gonnering, Manager of Estate and Gift Planning, at 905-522-1155 extension 35978 or by email at

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