Muskogee County EMS Grants Christmas Wish for a Veteran - Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System
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Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System

 

Muskogee County EMS Grants Christmas Wish for a Veteran

A Veteran in an ambulance

Mike Cates (right), a Muskogee County Emergency Medical Service paramedic, prepares to transport Marine Corps Veteran Robert Smith, a hospice patient at the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center, and his wife Cindy to Poteau so they could celebrate Christmas with friends and family.

By Nathan Schaeffer
Friday, December 21, 2012

On Dec. 18, the Muskogee County Emergency Medical Service (EMS) granted a special wish to Marine Corps Veteran Robert Smith, a hospice patient at the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center who is terminally ill with gastric cancer.

The EMS provided Smith and his wife Cindy with a free round-trip ambulance ride to a relative’s home in Poteau where they were able to celebrate Christmas with friends and family.

For approximately four hours, two EMS paramedics stayed at the home with Smith and then brought him back to the hospital.

The day trip was part of a new Muskogee County EMS program called Sentimental Journey, which provides special trips for terminally ill and hospice patients.  Smith was the first recipient of the program, which was made possible through donations.

Michele Cruz, Director of Community Relations for the Muskogee County EMS, said the organization wanted the first Sentimental Journey recipient to be a Veteran.

“It’s part of our culture to take care of our Veterans,” said Cruz.  “They have a special place in our hearts. We love our Veterans and we couldn’t think of anybody better to be the very first one for this new program than a Veteran.”

Before the trip, Smith said he was grateful to the EMS for the opportunity to travel to Poteau to spend Christmas with relatives.

“I’m terminally ill, so I’m going to see them all together while I can,” said Smith, who served in Vietnam during 1972 and 1973. “Without the EMS, it just wouldn’t have been possible. We can’t thank the EMS enough.”

He also thanked the VA employees for the excellent care he has received.

“The VA hospital, on a scale of one to ten, they’re an 11,” said Smith, an Okmulgee resident. “I’d say they’re one of the better hospitals that this state has.”

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