At EvergreenHealth Hospice in Kirkland, Washington, every effort is made to ensure patients are loved and cared for with dignity, grace and compassion.
The grounds are immaculate, boasting the seasonal beauty that Washington state has to offer, bringing comfort and relaxation to patients and their families during a time of uncertainty, waiting and sorrow.
A patient named Ed who reportedly lived at EvergreenHealth Hospice likely watched the seasons pass by from his bedroom window, aching to be back outdoors where his soul was most satisfied.
But Ed was too sick to be transported outside — until hospice staff learned that his dying wish was to take one last visit to the woods.
“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,” Evergreen Hospice Volunteers shared on Facebook in a 2014 post that still circulates today.
“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.”
The logistics of taking Ed outside were a bit daunting, but his care team asked the Snohomish County Fire District in Edmonds, Washington, for assistance.
In the spring of 2014, Huber and Ed’s RN case manager, Leigh Gardner, joined several members of the Snohomish County Fire District to make Ed’s final wish come true.
The group visited Meadowdale Beach Park in Edmonds, transported by an EMS vehicle and supported by the firefighters.
“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,” Evergreen Hospice wrote.
“Ed was delighted. So were all the professionals who accompanied him.”
The story has served as an achingly beautiful reminder that not everything about hospice is depressing, rather, it can be filled with powerful moments of human compassion made all the sweeter because of the sorrow.
“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,” the post read.
According to its Facebook page, the EvergreenHealth Hospice Care Center opened in 1991 as the first free-standing hospice center in the state of Washington.
The center is also home to a dedicated, service-oriented team of volunteers who seek to add their talents and passion to creating a calming and supportive environment for those at the center.
“At EvergreenHealth, our staff takes pride in treating the patient as a whole with a main focus on quality of life, and not just for pain management,” their website states. “What gives our patients meaning in life is what is most important to our staff.”
“Sometimes this can mean something as grandiose as Ed’s story, which may be unique, or as small as finger-painting with a grandchild for the last time — both having significant meaning in the patient’s end-of-life experience.”
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