Caregivers help grant terminally ill patient’s wish to be baptized

Seven adults standing together
Small inflatable pool

Elise Manning, director of therapy services at LewisGale Medical Center in Salem, Va., said “there wasn’t a dry eye in the room,” after honoring a patient’s wish to be baptized before entering hospice care at his home.

Manning and her team had treated the patient since May 28, when his body began to decline and the next appropriate treatment was hospice care. After learning from his hospice nurse that he wanted to be baptized, the rehab caregivers had a two-hour window before his discharge to help grant his wish.

“Because of his religion, he needed to be fully submerged in water, which presented a challenge for us logistically,” Manning said. “Our director of nursing in rehab, our department’s administrative assistant and I brainstormed ways the ceremony could be performed and how we could keep the patient safe.”

The team settled on an inflatable pool from a local retailer and selected the shower room on the rehab floor for the baptism area. Coordinating with the patient’s wife’s pastor, who would perform the ceremony, LewisGale’s rehab therapists made sure the space was appropriate, the water would be deep enough, and, essentially, everything was in order.

Healthcare professionals lifting patient
Lifting patient into pool.

“We brought his bed into the room at an angle and used about six therapists and rehab techs to lift him off the bed, using his bedsheet, carry him over the pool and gently set him down,” Manning explained. “The pastor conducted the service and instructed us, at the right time, to lean the patient back so he could be submerged.”

Two patient care technicians from a different unit were also on hand and sang “Amazing Grace” and “Take me to the Water” during the baptism. (View video on Facebook here. HCA Healthcare internal audience can view video here.)

After the patient was baptized, he said “amen” over and over again, says Manning.

“It was a touching moment,” Manning said, “and one that I will never forget.”

Thanks to the following LewisGale care team for providing exceptional patient care and for helping to make this patient’s final wish a reality.

Five healthcare professionals standing next to an empty bed, singing
Singing “Amazing Grace.”

Tara Quinley, inpatient rehab case manager

Krissy Mullins, rehab director

Elise Manning, therapy director

Trish Tampasis, therapy lead

Debbie Mitchell, clinical coordinator

Rachel Singleton, occupational therapist

Austin Horton, patient care tech

Summer Wiley, patient care tech

Chuck Divers, patient care tech

Sara Carter, administrative assistant

Danielle Thomas, patient care tech/singer

Tierra Hash, patient care tech/singer

Jacqueline Tozier, physical therapist

Emilie Ashworth, occupational therapist

Crystal Wimmer, registered nurse

LewisGale Medical Center, located in Salem, Virginia, is an affiliate of HCA Healthcare and a member of HCA Healthcare Virginia.

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HCA Healthcare, one of the nation's leading providers of healthcare services, is comprised of 183 hospitals and more than 2,300 sites of care, in 20 states and the United Kingdom. Our more than 283,000 colleagues are connected by a single purpose — to give patients healthier tomorrows.

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