Dorothy Ellsworth, Flight RN
Upon news of my transport to Perpignan, France I was excited. Getting report on the patient that I would be transporting I had a few concerns. Dementia/Alzheimer’s, incontinence. How long is the flight? As I reviewed the history and physical, reviewed the equipment and medications that I would have on this transport I felt confident that this could be accomplished.
The morning of transport came and the SUV came to the office to take me to acquire the patient. Upon arrival at the care facility there was a group gathered outside, awaiting my arrival. As I met friends and family and care workers I saw the love and concern in their eyes over the release of this sweet man. First I was taken to the medication room where I received three large bags of medications to transport with this patient. I was then taken to the area the patient was waiting in. He was a proud man sitting in a chair that had large flowers about it. He was surrounded by those whom would miss him perhaps the most. Tears filled their eyes as I did a full head to toe assessment and took vital signs. As I placed the blood pressure cuff on this man’s arm he became upset. One facility nurse said, “Oh, he doesn’t like to have his blood pressure taken.” I introduced myself once again to the patient as a hopeful distraction. Glancing at my watch I knew we needed to quickly get to the car and arrive at the airport. Everyone there gave hugs with tears in their eyes and said their goodbyes. This patient would not be coming back. He was returning to his home in France after living in the US for most of his life. We made our way to the SUV got in, buckled up and off we went to get on the plane.
The patient, family member and I went through security and boarded the plane flying first class with ease. After getting the patient comfortably in his seat and the family member nearby we were ready for the flight. As we sat there waiting for the plane it was a pleasure to get to know my patient in more detail. We spoke of his life and family. We often spoke of the trip that we were making back to France. The first leg of our flight went very well with only several trips to the bathroom and vital signs at altitude. We were able to eat, drink, walk and use the lavatory as needed. The patient was happy but needed at times to be reoriented so we would talk about the trip we were making and why we were making it. This seemed to help the patient relax. As we continued to fly, the length of the flight being long in duration it was helpful that I could recline the first class seat to a bed, that the patient could eat and drink as needed and that we could walk the plane. At times, I sat with my hand on my patients chest holding hands so that he was able to sleep. As I would look over at him, there was nothing more that I wanted to do but get him to the final destination so that a new chapter in his life could begin. Prescription medications were provided at the appropriate times for the patient and vital signs were taken as needed. Upon arrival in Paris I got my patient in a wheelchair, took my equipment and patient belonging to a taxi and off we went to the next airport. We arrived and were taken directly to the plane via a food truck. Yes, I said a food truck. It was a small airport and so you had to walk up the long flight of stairs like you see in the movies. The patient was unable to do this. The patient, family member and myself were driven and raised to the door where without difficulty we walked to our seats. Patient vitals were checked and we were ready for our last leg of the flight.
Upon arriving at our last airfield we took a taxi to the care facility that now my patient would call home. Everyone there was excited to meet my patient. We made introductions, the family member translating when necessary. I reluctantly took one last set of vitals and did my last assessment. I had spent an entire day with this man. I felt true love and concern for him. As I stood watching him interact with those around him especially his family I knew that he would be okay and happy here. I gave report and medications to the nurses at the facility and slowly made my way out of the room. He was in France where he and his family needed him to be. This gave me a sense of pride and accomplishment. The family has continued to let me know how this patient is doing, which I appreciate as I feel like a part of the family