Ed Reis, a former forest ranger, loved the outdoors. His whole life was defined by that love, which made his final condition all the more heartbreaking. Suffering from multiple sclerosis, Reis became bedridden and felt trapped in his own body. After he was moved to Evergreen Hospice in Washington State, Reis formed a connection with a RN named Leigh Gardner. He expressed the heartbreak he felt and his wish to make one last journey into the great outdoors. Leigh reached out to the Snhomish County Fire District 1 for help.
The Evergreen Hospice Volunteers shared this heartwarming gesture on Facebook,
Hospice Patient Makes Final Visit to the Outdoors
Ed, who lived in an adult family home, had not been outside for several years – as a result of his illness and the difficulty in transporting him. His wish, which he shared with EvergreenHealth Hospice Chaplain Curt Huber, was to go outdoors. When he was healthy, Ed had been a forest ranger, and at that time, he said, he had lived for the outdoors.
When Curt learned of Ed’s wish, he brought it to the attention of the Hospice team, one of whom suggested getting in touch with a local fire department that might agree to transport Ed for this final visit to the outdoors. Curt contacted the Snohomish County Fire District in Edmonds, whose staff was happy to help.
In March, Curt and the RN Case Manager, Leigh Gardner, accompanied Ed and several members of the Snohomish County Fire District on an outing to Meadowdale Beach Park in Edmonds. Ed was picked up and transported in the EMS vehicle; other members of the fire department traveled in a fire truck.
Together, the group took Ed up and down the trails, bringing him the scents of the forest by touching the fragrant growth and bringing their hands close to Ed’s face.
Ed was delighted. So were all the professionals who accompanied him.
People sometimes think that working in hospice care is depressing. This story, submitted by North Team Program Manager Diane Fiumara, BSN, demonstrates the depths of the rewards that caring for the dying can bring. She says, “I want to thank my fantastic North Team for their love and dedication to the patients they serve.”
For three hours, the kindhearted firemen escorted Reis on his last great adventure through Meadowdale Beach Park in Edmonds, Washington. Gardner described the experience to ABC News, “The wheels of a gurney are like a shopping cart, so very small wheels on a trail — and it wasn’t like one of those little running trails at all, it was like a hiking trail… And we would stop every so often, and he would just sit and listen. And you know, I went over to him, and I said, ‘Are you happy?’ He’s like, ‘I’m so happy.’”