Take Me Out to the Ballgame!

 Published: January 9, 2020

By: Heather Willden

Transporting the residents was a major undertaking.
Transporting the residents was a major undertaking.”

When Delta Young, RRT, and her colleagues at Gurwin Jewish Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Commack, NY, acquired new portable ventilators for their 28-bed ventilator unit earlier this year their goals for the new equipment were fairly modest.

They wanted to give their ventilator-dependent patients a chance to get out of their rooms more often and socialize with other residents in the facility.

Turns out they were able to do much more than that.

The new lightweight vents — which provide ventilation, oxygen, suction, cough assist, and nebulization — allowed them to take four patients to a Mets game just weeks later.

Up for the challenge

The idea for an outing to the game came about during the rollout of the new vents. Staff and residents were gathered in the family lounge with some representatives from the ventilator company, discussing the transition to the new units while the Mets game was on TV. One of the newer residents, 82-year-old Gus, was there along with his son, who started telling one of the staff about how his dad had coached his son in soccer and baseball and was actually playing soccer himself until shortly before he was diagnosed with ALS.

New vents + the sports talk + the Mets game on TV? Why not take a few of the residents to a Mets game, using the new portable ventilators!

Gus and his son were up for the challenge, and three other residents and their families joined them on the trip.

One was a woman who had been paralyzed by a stroke and had not been outside of the Gurwin facility in three years. She went to the game along with both of her daughters — one of whom held her wedding at Gurwin so that her mom could witness the event.

“It was priceless to allow them the time outside the facility at the Mets game on a beautiful New York summer night,” Young said. “The resident was able to eat a hotdog and share the moment with her two girls.”

The third resident to join in the fun also has ALS. Young says he has a tireless will to live and is an active supporter of ALS in the wider community.

“He writes children’s stories for his daughter, who is the reason for his being,” Young said.

Resident number four was chosen for the trip because he and his son, a New York City police officer who is constantly at his dad’s bedside, are avid Mets fans.

Well worth the effort

Getting all four of these patients to the game was a massive undertaking but well worth the effort. Young says the RT department prepared for the trip with the help of the medical director, nursing director, ambulance personnel, public relations, and the team from Ventec Life Systems, which makes the ventilator.

Each of the residents was transported via stretcher by advanced care life support ambulances, and a separate ambulette was hired to take the necessary emergency medical equipment for onsite care at the ballpark. A team of EMTs, along with two RTs from Gurwin and two from the vent company, transported the residents to their seats in the awaiting Citifield suite via freight elevators.

“The RTs who attended the game all stated it was one of the most rewarding moments of their career,” Young said. “Seeing the smiles on the residents’ faces and the appreciation of the families makes us proud to call ourselves respiratory therapists.”

The family members who made the trip expressed their gratitude for the extra effort Gurwin made to give this experience to their loved ones, noting that they never thought such a trip would be possible when their family members arrived at the facility and that Gurwin had given them their dignity back and improved their quality of life.

Young says the success of the Mets game outing has encouraged Gurwin to try it again.

“We are looking forward to springtime and warm weather when we’ll take our next trip to Jones Beach on Long Island for the annual Memorial Day Air Show,” she said. “We have World War II veterans I would love to take!”

Long-term care facilities that are on the fence about planning such outings for their patients should “just do it” says Young.

“Don’t let obstacles and logistics get in the way of something that will ultimately benefit your residents’ quality of life,” Young said

Making the Mets game happen was definitely a team effort.
Making the Mets game happen was definitely a team effort.
Gus enjoyed attending the game with his two grandsons.
Gus enjoyed attending the game with his two grandsons.
The Citifield suite was essentially transformed into an ICU setting.
The Citifield suite was essentially transformed into an ICU setting.

Email newsroom@aarc.org with questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you.

Heather Willden

Heather Willden is the Director of Governance and Strategic Initiatives for the AARC where she works with state affiliates as the HOD liaison. She also manages DEI efforts and strategic initiatives. Connect with her about these topics by email, AARConnect or LinkedIn. When she's not working, you can find her podcasting with her husband, exploring new hiking trails, photographing, and spending time with her family.

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