"Not everybody has a last wish, but the ones who do, we try to make it special," says Lois “Muffy” Tonelli, RN, assistant administrator at Good Samaritan Society – Hospice in Ottumwa, Iowa.
During every hospice admission, patients are asked, “Is there anything you would like to do one more time?”
Naomi LeGrande didn’t know how to reply at first. After some thought, however, she decided she wanted to go to the casino where she and her late husband had spent many fun times together.
At our hospice location in Ottumwa, a program referred to as the Sentimental Journey is offered to patients who are willing and able to participate. The program began a few years ago, inspired by an idea from a staff member.
Donated funds fulfill these final wishes
One patient requested to visit a museum with his wife. Another fulfilled his dream of attending a Chicago Cubs baseball game. Naomi LeGrande wanted to play the slot machines surrounded by family and friends.
Naomi, both wheelchair bound and oxygen dependent, had everything she needed for the trip to Prairie Meadows Casino, about 80 miles north of Ottumwa. Seventeen family members and friends met her there.
Naomi spent the day playing slot machines, surrounded by those she loves, with joyful tears in their eyes. Afterwards, the Society’s Sentimental Journey program paid for the group to enjoy a private dinner together. Naomi had a wonderful time.
“It wasn’t about winning that day. My favorite part was when all my grandkids could see me having a good day," Naomi says.
It essentially let us be a family on vacation. Wonderful, wonderful!” – Naomi LeGrande, hospice patient.
Naomi’s son Phil says, “It was a heartwarming day. She and Dad traveled to Las Vegas a lot; it was one of the things she really liked. This experience showed her that hospice isn’t about dying; it’s about living the best life you can. We are very thankful we found the Society.”
At the Good Samaritan Society, hospice is more than just physical care; it’s emotional and spiritual too.
“I was very unhappy when I first came to hospice. I am doing better now because of all the loving and compassionate care. This hospice is the best thing out there,” Naomi said.