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Patient stories

Game of a lifetime: WellSpan team helps dream come true for hospice patient

After Tim Wagner decided to stop treatment for a brain tumor and receive comfort care from WellSpan Hospice Home Health, his social worker asked him if he had a dream. 

"Dream big!" social worker Lisa Dorsey urged.  

Tim didn't hesitate. A Phillies fan for more than 50 years, the 62-year-old Myerstown man wanted to see his beloved team play and get the chance to meet one of his favorite players.

Tim now uses a wheelchair and has other complex medical needs. He was too ill to travel to a Phillies game he planned to see in Cleveland this summer. How could Lisa help make Tim's dream come true? 

Knowing she had to work quickly, Lisa reached out to her WellSpan supervisors for help. What happened next felt like a miracle to Tim and his family. 

Working their connections in the community and region, a determined WellSpan team swiftly put together a memorable trip to a Phillies game for Tim and 15 of his family and friends. 

Dr. John Deitch, WellSpan vice president and chief medical officer of the orthopedic service line, reached out to a friend who works for the Phillies organization. The team supplied free tickets, dinner, and other special treats for the group. 

Brad Bame, regional director of WellSpan Philanthropy, reached out to the Anne Fund in Lebanon, a non-profit organization that benefits families battling cancer. The Fund provided a limousine so Tim could travel comfortably to and from the game. 

"Awesome!" is Tim's description of the day. "I just can't say enough. Everything went the way I was hoping it would go – plus some." 

"It was like the best day of his life," says Tim's sister, Karen, who works for WellSpan as a visiting nurse, and accompanied Tim to the game along with the pair's other sibling, John. 

Also traveling with Tim were members of his WellSpan care team, who planned ahead for Tim's safety during the trip. They included Lisa, the hospice social worker; Dr. Neenos Alnoor, an oncologist and the hospice medical director in Lebanon County; Dawn Hoover, a hospice nurse; and LeAnne Moyer, hospice clinical supervisor.

The limo ride got things off to a rousing start, with Tim singing karaoke to his favorite heavy metal bands on the way to Citizens Bank Park. 

Once there, Tim was treated to a meet-and-greet with former Phillies player and Major League Baseball All-Star John Kruk, who is now an announcer for the team. Kruk, known for his wit and larger-than-life personality, shared laughter, stories, and observations about the game (including his occasional distaste for umpires). He was unhurried and generous with his time, having to be shooed out of the meeting by his assistants so he could get on the air, autographing a Phillies cap for Tim before he left. 

The group got to go on the field, ate dinner at the CP Rankin Club restaurant in the park (cheeseburger, hold the veggie toppings, and fries for Tim), and then enjoyed watching the game in the Hall of Fame Club by the third-base line. The game was not only a victory for the Phillies, who beat the Washington Nationals 7-0, but also a rare no-hitter, just the 14th in franchise history.  

The group reluctantly made their exit as the lights went down on the ballpark.  

"The ushers were telling us we had to go home," Tim says, laughing.  

Lisa and her hospice co-workers encourage all of their patients to set goals or dream dreams and work to help them accomplish them, providing a personalized approach. The team has arranged birthday bashes, graduation parties, leaf-peeping drives, and even a visit from Santa Claus for a 70s-ish patient who never had the chance to sit on the jolly man's lap as a child. 

Their goal is to care for patients and help them live their days with joy, in the way they choose. 

"We could leave the disease behind and go to this game, and Tim could be Tim," says Dawn, his hospice nurse. "That's what we want for everyone." 

Learn more about the hospice that served Tim, and its multi-dimensional services, by going here.