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'Honour to be a part of': Sask. Patient Transfer Services helping families create positive memories

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Being in palliative care is an experience that often fosters stress and anxiety for patients and their loved ones. One business, however, is working to help families create some positive memories during a difficult time.

Saskatchewan Patient Transfer Services (SPTS) was founded in 2018 to alleviate pressure from EMT services by creating a service that drives non-emergent patients to and from a variety of places, seeing around 5,000 transfers annually.

“When we got the first call for a palliative transfer, we thought it was going to be super heartbreaking and not a good call to have, and in the end, it actually became one of the most rewarding calls that we’ve been able to accomplish to date,” Bryan Schooley, Sask. Patient Transfer’s founder and director, explained.

Since that initial call, SPTS has taken countless individuals who are in palliative care to places that are special to them, in an attempt to create a positive memory throughout a difficult time.

Aicha Svedahl, patient transfer specialist, said she takes a lot of pride in her job.

“Having the opportunity for family and the patient to have one last special event, to get together as a final goodbye if you will, is very important. They get closure and the patient gets his last wish, and that is an honour to be a part of,” she said.

These wishes range from having a favourite food one last time, to visiting a sentimental place, and everything in between.

“We’ve taken patients to their family farm to see their horses and family or pets one last time, a final cup of coffee with family and friends at a coffee shop, the flowers outside of the ledge building, they’re all memorable in their own way,” Schooley said.

“It puts that last bit of humanity in healthcare, you’re not just a patient, you’re a person, and you’re able to build a memory with family sort of one last time.”

As for what’s next, the organization has plans to expand their palliative care operations.

“We’re actively working on opening a foundation, a not for profit sector of our service specifically for these make a wish type palliative transfers where we can be used by anybody even in the public for someone who is sick and unable to afford that last sort of journey,” Schooley said.  

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