Granting hospice patients lifelong wishes
July 12, 2011
On June 27, 88-year-old Park City resident Jack Sutton went to Lagoon with two of his roommates who live with him at a Chrysalis Group home.
They rode the merry-go-round, the train and played a bunch of arcade games. Sutton won a couple of stuffed animals and also brought home a Lagoon baseball cap, which he added to the 4,200 he has in storage.
The outing was made possible by the Community Nursing Services Senior Wish program.
CNS Senior Wish is similar the nationwide Make-a-Wish Foundation, which gives children with life-threatening medical conditions a chance to experience one of their life-long dreams.
The difference lies in the fact the patients are usually the elderly under hospice care, and there aren’t extravagant, first-class flights to Walt Disney World, said Diane Moore, CNS Senior Wish program coordinator.
"We find ourselves sometimes just bringing something into their homes that will help them relive an old memory," Moore said during an interview with The Park Record. "Sometimes we take them places or provide a way for them to go share a dinner with a loved one or spend a day at Lagoon."
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Sutton, who was in hospice care when his wish was filled, had so many ideas.
"First he wanted to go to a Jazz game, but when his initial paperwork was submitted, there were only two games left in the season," Moore said. "So I went and met with him, which I do on occasion with other patients, and talked with him to see what he wanted to do."
The two tossed around the idea of going to a baseball game, before deciding on Lagoon, she said.
"He can t get around really well because he is in a wheelchair a lot of the time, but that’s what he wanted to do," she said. "He wanted to ride some of the rides, but what he really wanted to do was win a game, which he did at the darts. He won a blue bear."
CNS began the Senior Wish program a year ago, when the general manager hired Moore to get the program going.
The program is for anyone under CSN care who doesn’t have the means, family or money to fulfill their wishes, Moore said.
"If they don’t have a support group that can help them carry out a wish, they qualify for the program," she said.
Also, age isn’t really an issue.
"I have done wishes for people in their 40s and 50s, which means they aren’t technically senior citizens, but were in hospice care," Moore said. "My thought is if they have just a short time to live, then they are in their senior time of their lives.
"We’ve taken a woman who was a former barrel racer and rodeo queen to Wheeler Farm so she could ride a horse again," Moore said.
A woman from Price wanted to go to Salt Lake and stay the night at the Crystal Inn and attend a Hale Center Theatre performance.
"She was on oxygen and wheelchair and couldn’t get around very easily," Moore said. "After their wish was fulfilled, her husband called me up while they were on the way back home and told me it was a dream come true for his wife. They told me they stayed at a hotel only four times in their lives."
Although CNS, a recipient of the 2010 Best of State award for Nursing Services and the 2011 Best of State award for nonprofit company, is based in Salt Lake, it has home-care and hospice offices throughout Utah, from St. George to Logan, Moore said.
"We care for more than 2,000 patients statewide, with five in the Park City area," she said. "We also provide immunizations for uninsured and underinsured patients in Park City.
"We have been around since 1928, and have nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists and aides that go into the home to provide care."
A short time after his Lagoon trip was approved, Sutton was taken off hospice care, Moore said.
"I’m not allowed to discuss specific medical conditions, but he’s doing so well that he doesn’t require it anymore," she said.
For more information about the Senior Wish Program, contact Diane Moore at (801) 918-9990 or email email@example.com. For more information about Community Nursing Services, visit http://www.cns-cares.org.