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Patient transfer satisfies dying Regina man's wish for ice cream pit stop

Donn Hale devoured his vanilla sundae with hot fudge caramel, Skor bits and pecans.

“He loved food,” his daughter April Boldt recalled in an interview Tuesday. “Everyday we were bringing him something different.”

Even as he lay in a stretcher, clad in a blue jean jacket, Tilley hat and sunglasses, Hale had a smile on his face. The 72-year-old Regina man was suffering from stage four brain cancer. But that didn’t stop him from enjoying the sundae or posing for a picture afterward.

The ice cream was the last treat he enjoyed before his passing on Thursday.

The picture, taken May 7 and posted on Facebook by Boldt shortly after her father’s death, gained local social media attention over the Victoria Day weekend. The post features Boldt standing beside her father’s stretcher alongside two attendants from Saskatchewan Patient Transfer Services (SPTS). They were taking Hale from the Regina General Hospital to Wascana Grace Hospice, where he spent his final days. Boldt’s post praised the attendants for helping Hale enjoy this last sweet indulgence before his death.

Boldt said as they were leaving the hospital and loading Hale into an SPTS vehicle, she learned that because SPTS is a non-emergency patient transfer service, attendants have the ability to take time getting to and from locations.

“We always ask ‘Do you want to make a stop?’ ” said Brad Tice, one of the patient transfer attendants who helped Hale.

He said some people like to visit a park, or see home one more time.

“When I saw him sitting on the stretcher it was like … this is going to be his last ride,” said Boldt.

“April looked at me and said, ‘Are you serious? You’ll take him anywhere?’ ” said Tice. “I said, ‘Absolutely. Where do you want to go?’ And she said, ‘Can we go to Milky Way for ice cream?’ ”

“I figured I’d run and get (Hale) a treat,” said Boldt.

She assumed attendants would stay with her father in the vehicle. But she was shocked when Tice and his partner, Eric Taylor, began unloading her father.

“Brad and Eric were like, ‘No he’s coming too!’ ” she said.

She was enthralled by the gesture.

“I was shocked,” she said. “I was like ‘This is so incredible.’ We pulled by the side, and stood by the trees, and we were all talking, and there were kids playing.

Even though her father was losing his ability to speak because of the cancer, he let them know the impact of their kindness.

“When we got to (Wascana) Grace Hospice, my dad said, ‘This is the best day ever,’ ” recalled Boldt.

Tice said he and Taylor are humbled by the attention. He added it will probably be one of the most memorable days in his career.

“We didn’t do it as a PR stunt,” said Tice.”It was simply, here’s a man who’s probably going to the place where he’s going to spend his last days. And we were able to make that a little better.”

Bryan Schooley, SPTS’s founder and director, said Tice and Taylor are a testament to the work SPTS strives to do.

“I couldn’t ask for better staff on hand to facilitate these transfers,” he said. “It takes a special person to have the bedside manner and personal abilities to interact with patients.”

The service, launched in June 2018, transfers patients who are too ill to take other transportation but are medically stable between hospitals and to doctors’ appointments.

Even though her father is no longer with her, Boldt holds the day close to her heart.

“It really did make a difference,” she said. “It’ll be a memory I have forever.”

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019

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