Hospice Patient Skydives Once More, Thanks to VITAS and Virtual Reality

Posted on

May 25, 2021

From the cramped cabin of the aircraft, VITAS Healthcare patient Kim peered out through the open door and took in the landscape as it stretched to meet the horizon.In the next moment, she was dropping from 10,000 feet, reminding her senses: You are alive.
Kimcouldnt help but smile. She had made a habit of seeking these reminders throughout her 64 years on Earth. Now, as she neared the end of her life, the message seemed to come through with renewed clarity as her wish to fly through the atmosphere one last time came true, thanks toher VITAS hospice team.
It takes a lot of coordination, but when you have a whole team coming together, you can make anything work, says Daily, VITAS volunteer services manager.
ToKim, cirrhosis of the liver seemed at first like a challenge waiting to be overcome. But after receiving a terminal prognosis and beginning care with VITAS,shestarted to focus on what she could feasibly achieve in the time that remained.
Id been seeing Kim for about eight months, and one day she mentioned that shed been skydiving in the past and wanted to do it one last time, says Tammy,Kimsnurse.
Dailysuggested that virtual reality (VR) could offer a simulated version ofKimsdesiredexperience without the risks associated with jumping from a plane. The VITAS team manager and physician agreed.
On the day of the skydive, Kim was joined by the hospice team at her house. One of her nurses stood ready with the fan asKimsat down and donned an Oculus Rift VR headset.
At one point,Kimstood from her chair, ecstatic with the sheer sensation of it all. After landing safely on the ground, she immediately began showering the team with appreciation.
ForKim, the experience was clearly a dream come true, but not quite a replacement for the real deal:Tammysays that her patient still jokes about skydivingand bringing her favorite nurse along for the ride.

Rikki Muro is general manager for VITAS Healthcare in Chicago. For more information about end-of-life care options, call VITAS Healthcare at 866.759.6695 or visit VITAS.com.

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