On April 19, 2019, Debra Santowski — a patient at Sharp HospiceCare — was granted a trip to a San Diego Padres baseball game at Petco Park. The visit was made possible by American Medical Response's (AMR) Sentimental Journey program.
AMR, an emergency medical response provider, has been helping grant special outings to patients on hospice through its goodwill program. As part of the program, AMR ambulance crews pick up patients from their residence and take them to a special place they can no longer access on their own as their illness progresses.
“We were happy to work with Sharp HospiceCare to gift Debra with a special night at the ballpark,” says AMR’s Mary McAdams. “That night was a break from the day-to-day routine of living with a severe illness. We wanted to give her a moment of living in pure and simple joy.”
Debra’s time in hospice began in November 2017, when she enrolled in Sharp HospiceCare due to an incurable cancer. Since then, she has formed strong bonds with her care team, considering them as family and trusting each of them unconditionally.
“Debra is a very special patient to those who have the opportunity to work with her,” says Cindy Crist, nurse practitioner at Sharp HospiceCare. “She calls us, ‘Team Debra,’ and freely expresses her love and appreciation, giving us hugs that makes the camaraderie and respect that we have for each other truly tangible.”
Take me out to the ball game
A true Padres fan, part of Debra’s ritual is to tune into the sports channel to watch Padres games.
“She has said on multiple occasions during home games that she wished she had the opportunity to go to Petco Park for a Padres game one last time,” recalls Katy de Oliveira, a social worker at Sharp HospiceCare.
Upon learning about the Sentimental Journey program at a workplace meeting, Debra’s care team stepped into action and contacted AMR to arrange for her to see a Padres home game in person.
The AMR medical response team arrived at the BonitaView hospice home to take Debra to Petco Park, where she was joined by her hospice caregivers. A premier suite was reserved to view the game, and was decked out with traditional baseball foods and memorabilia. Debra also received a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity — a behind-the-scenes look at the Color Guard, a baseball from Padres outfielder Hunter Renfroe and going on the field adjacent to the Padres dugout.
“She was treated like royalty,” recalls John Tastad, chaplain at Sharp HospiceCare. “The look on Debra’s face was unforgettable and her smile went from ear-to-ear. She was given time to simply savor the moment.”