Floyd Medical Center Straightforward

The Best Birthday Party Ever

The care provided by the staff and volunteers at Heyman HospiceCare is well documented, but sometimes, the extra effort they put into caring for their patients is beyond what most of us would ever imagine. That was certainly the case with Josh.

Josh was about to turn 15, a milestone for many teenagers, but especially important for a young man whose declining health has brought him into the hospice family. Josh’s two favorite things, outside of his friends and family, are Hawaiian luaus and animals, especially furry little ones.

It’s not uncommon for pets to be involved in the care of a hospice patient. Heyman HospiceCare works with an agency that supplies not only the typical cats and dogs, but other, larger animals as well, including ponies and even a llama.

The staff at Heyman HospiceCare wanted to do something special for Josh’s big day, and began making telephone calls and connections to create the best birthday party ever.

The hospice team connected with the Make A Wish foundation to organize a luau, filled with all the things Josh loves, including a Polynesian-themed ice truck, a deejay and a petting zoo. Then, they invited all of Josh’s teachers and friends from school.

The day of the party was a celebration on a scale that is hard to imagine. Josh, his friends, and younger sisters danced, sang and took turns petting the menagerie of small animals in attendance: baby goats, rabbits, guinea pigs, baby chicks, ducklings, young turkeys and even a chinchilla, all of them rescues.

It was chaotic and beautiful.

Josh and his family were overwhelmed. They could not believe that his caregivers would make all of these things happen for him.

Josh’s mom pulled a hospice staff member aside and told her she was leery when she was told that a hospice care team would be assuming care for her son. Nearly 15 years of doctor visits and hospital stays had left her skeptical of health care systems in general. She thought the move to hospice was the worst thing that had ever happened, but over the past four months she has changed her mind. Now, Josh’s mom said she is actually excited to see a hospice staff member at the door because she knows that Josh’s team is focused on him, and that gives her a peace of mind that she has not had in a long time.