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Clearing a peaceful path home

| Everyday Moments

Older hiker walks up a hill on a sunny day.

In her final days, a patient made a difficult return thanks to two caregivers.

Two hundred miles stood in the way of one patient’s final wish.

She had been moved to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver, Washington, for care that wasn’t available where she lived.

Still, her health declined. Facing her final days, she longed to return to her Native community.

Distance wasn’t the only thing in her way. The right equipment, staff and supplies were also needed to make her return bearable.

Never give up

The patient and her family didn’t give up. Neither did two PeaceHealth caregivers: Julie Wheaton, a palliative care nurse practitioner, and Nancy Agard-Swiderek, a palliative care social worker.

“The patient’s family wanted to take her home to honor their end-of-life rites and rituals,” said Lynette Paulson, Julie and Nancy’s supervisor.

“Julie called every hospice (near the patient’s home) to find one that could do a compassionate withdrawal of care and support the patient at her home.”

Removing barriers

And Nancy continued to remove barrier after barrier to find a solution. She focused on the patient’s family, who could not stay in Vancouver because other loved ones needed them.

In three days, Nancy worked out a plan across different departments in the hospital. She also arranged for an ambulance company to travel the necessary 200 miles. And she partnered with the patient's primary care provider to meet the patient’s needs once home.

Together with the family and others, Julie and Nancy saw their patient’s final wish fulfilled in a loving and caring way.