Hospice, EMS volunteers offer palliative patients Lasting Memories

For most people, a ride in an ambulance ends at the hospital

For most people, a ride in an ambulance ends at the hospital.

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But not with the new Lasting Memories program, which escorts palliative patients on an end-of-life journey of their choice.

The program is a partnership of Chatham-Kent Hospice and Medavie Health Services, which runs Chatham-Kent EMS. Paramedics and hospice staff volunteers offer the special experience to palliative patients, a release said.

“We want to help families create a wonderful memory to carry with them throughout their final days together,” said Pete Morassutti, Chatham-Kent EMS’s mobile integrated health manager. “One last visit to the farm, ride to the lake, or enjoying a sporting event – ​​one last celebration.”

He added Medavie “values ​​being caring, innovative and community-minded, and Lasting Memories is an excellent example of how these values ​​become reality.”

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Hospice staff work with families to set up an outing, then volunteer paramedics accompany them throughout the excursion, alleviating any health or medical concerns, the hospice said.

For the inaugural first ride, hospice resident Sandra, her daughter, Cindy, son-in-law, Vince, and her two grandparents visited CM Wilson Conservation Area to enjoy the fresh air and an afternoon picnic.

“My daughter and I were looking up places in the area after I found out about this trip, and we stumbled across pictures for the conservation area,” Sandra said in the release.

“It looked so beautiful, I thought, ‘I would love to see that in person!’ I never thought I would be able to go outside again, let alone in this beautiful setting,” she added.

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Chatham-Kent EMS paramedic volunteers Rodney Hetherington and Jon Benoit accompanied Sandra.

“Getting into the ambulance felt very smooth,” Sandra said, adding the paramedics were very cautious and attentive. “The ride was a bit bumpy, but they warned me before every bump, so I felt ready and comfortable.”

She was able to cruise around on a scooter and “feel the wind in my hair and listen to birds. I even saw a snapping turtle,” which one paramedic held up for her grandparents to see.

“I got to see the wonder in their faces and not just hear about it later,” Sandra said. “The paramedics went above and beyond and made the entire experience completely stress-free.”

Having grown up in the country, she said the outing was a wonderful way to spend quality time with her family and enjoy nature.

Sandra, who knew a little about the hospice before it was suggested to the family while she was hospital, said she’s been surprised by the little things it offers.

“Everyone is so caring and kind,” she said. “I am very grateful to Hospice and Chatham-Kent EMS for making this opportunity possible.”

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