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Take Off Talk

Distance can be a major barrier to accessing quality healthcare in a timely manner. For patients, access to air transportation can make all the difference in getting the treatment they need. However, flights can be expensive, and putting off medical care because of costs can put you or your loved ones at risk. That's where Angel Flight East comes in.

Welcome to Take Off Talk with Angel Flight East, a nonprofit dedicated to facilitating free air transportation for children and adults with medical conditions who need treatment far from home. Our organization covers a 14 state footprint from Virginia to Ohio to Maine and for further distances, we partner with other public benefit flying organizations.  No matter how many times you need to get to your medical treatment or see a loved one in need, we are here to help. Unfortunately, few people know about free services like ours, and thus cannot use them when needed. We don't know how many people forgo medical care because they don't have accessible transportation, and that's what this podcast is here to change.

Guiding Angels: Jonathan’s Mission With Grace Healthcare Services

Take Off Talk with Angel Flight East | Jonathan | Grace Healthcare Services

Facing end-of-life care can be a daunting experience, but Jess Ames and Maddy Beck are here to shed light on the support available. Joining them today is Jonathan, a Mission Support Coordinator from Grace Healthcare Services, to discuss the comforting embrace of hospice care. Jonathan recounts the challenges of navigating the healthcare system to find a solution for the patient’s transportation needs and how Angel Flight East provided a lifeline in their time of need. Overall, the message of Jonathan's story is that there is support available for people who are going through end-of-life care. Angel Flight East and hospice care can provide comfort and support to patients and families during a difficult time.




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Jonathan And Angel Flight  

Jonathan, do you want to give everybody an idea of how you got involved with Angel Flight and what your role is?

My name is Jonathan. I am a mission support coordinator. What I do in the facilities is support the nurses and the doctors with hospice. I make sure that there are no delays in gaps or care for a patient who's in hospice. The way I got involved with Angel Flight was because there was a potential patient whose wish was to go back to Ohio to be with her family in hospice. The hospital seemed like there weren't enough services or charities that were able to take on this type of role.

Angel Flight was directed to me by one of my colleagues. He said, “There's a program out there that would potentially help you guys, but you had to reach out.” I wind up picking up the phone and I was like, “Let me just shoot my shot.” I came across David and he was like, “Send me the information. I'm going to send you an application. Have the nurses and the doctor fill it out. Get back to me.”

Truly, without David and Jose Ramos, who was the pilot, the wishes would never have come true because I didn't know which direction to go and how to get the patient from New Jersey to Ohio. Being able to grant the wish and be able to get them to Ohio with their loved ones and to transition peacefully with their loved ones. That was an amazing organization organized by Angel Flight in conjunction with Grace as well.

David is going to love this episode so much because we try to keep him very humble and that he isn't the face of our organization. We'll have to give a shout-out to David because he does work very hard to get people where they need to go.


Take Off Talk with Angel Flight East | Jonathan | Grace Healthcare Services


We're just not giving a shout-out to David's fashion statement.

David is not here to talk about his fashion statement. What type of guy David is? I only know him from the standpoint of meeting with him over the phone and having those conversations with him.

I don’t know how to describe David. He's one of a kind. Do you know that stereotypical cookie-cutter Philly guy who is everything Eagles and everything Philly sports? Every fun fact that you can think about in a movie, it's David's brain, and then you add in a love of Star Wars. I don't even know how else to explain it.

I have to say he's patient-driven for sure. If he can help out, he’ll put his foot in it.

I look at David as a big brother to me. This episode is going to make me so uncomfortable to listen back to because I'll never admit to complimenting David like this. I'm also laughing because David's office is right here. This wall is on the other side of David's office. I know that I can hear him on the phone so I know that he can hear me right now because I'm loud.

He’s probably sitting there smiling.

He is grinning ear to ear right now. I can feel it and I'm so uncomfortable about it.

He's an awesome guy to work with. Also, the dynamic is that if he can't put his foot in it, he'll direct you to someone who can. That's what I do appreciate about you guys because Angel Flight doesn't necessarily just say, “If we can't help you, it stops there.” I realize that you guys always navigate us to the next steps that need to be taken and that's very appreciated not only from the nursing standpoint but also from the patients as well. Whatever condition the patient is in, I know they're going through a tough time at the moment and it has to deal with more, “Can my wishes be met?”

With Angel Flight stepping in to say, “We'll grant the wish,” and being able to put you in a direction where we can grant the wish and make that patient happy for whatever time they have left with us is amazing. I do appreciate you guys for even taking the opportunity to take on this task and be able to meet the patients where they're at. I do appreciate that.

I don't think that you realize how big your story was to our organization. The story about your patient who flew with us, I don't know if you heard this part or not, but Jose Ramos took the flight because his wife is going through a similar experience. His wife also is a cancer patient and I believe it's the same prognosis as well.

I'm sitting here getting goosebumps where it's so telling about our pilots that we work with because they aren't just doing it because they're like, “I can go get a hamburger when I stop,” or whatever the case is. It's like, “I see somebody in the same situation and I can make a difference.”



Take Off Talk with Angel Flight East | Jonathan | Grace Healthcare Services



To be honest with you, they had the same prognosis. They were both dealing with stage 4 cancer. This story is a little bit touching not only to Jose but also to the family members. When I got feedback from the family members in regards to Angel Flight, they looked at this as an experience and it was experiencing it with somebody that's going through the same motions. To this day, I still stay in contact with Jose Ramos. We text. The only reason why is that sometimes you need the support of someone who understands the end-of-life journey. The end-of-life journey is not for everyone.

Depending on your characteristics as a person, sometimes people shy away from the reality of death. Death is something that we're all going to experience. We have a jersey number that's written on the back of our back. We just don't know the number. To be able to help Jose Ramos navigate the next steps and also to let him know there is support wherever he's at, we're bringing the support to him.


Take Off Talk with Angel Flight East | Jonathan | Grace Healthcare Services


I never met Jose Ramos personally. I do know how he looks because the family took a picture with him and sent it to me but for him to not only donate his aircraft but also donate his time to listen to the story and be able to take on the task. Also, to help him navigate what he's going through with his wife because what he's going through with his wife is it's something that we all hopefully don't have to experience. We don't ever want to wish him to anybody. Not even the people we may not like.

Angel Flight has not only touched the patient but touched Grace as well, the company that I work for, because we don't know what's out there for the type of help that we need with this type of stuff. Getting somebody transported to a different state from an aviation standpoint and for you guys to look deep into this and say, “Is it safe for the person to fly with us,” and be able to meet those ground levels of aviation to say, “We'll take on the task and we'll fly them across state lines,” is amazing too.

I do appreciate you guys because as a support coordinator who supports case management and also supports nursing, sometimes they don't know that there are programs out here in the community that would take on the task. To be able to work with people like yourself, Angel Flight, David, Jose Ramos, and even you guys putting a show together to make sure that we can reinsure the community that there are programs that would take on the task and would be able to assist you and navigate those next steps. That's something very important.

Not only from the hospital standpoint but for also the community to realize that there is support no matter where you're at. No matter where you're at in your journey or if you know someone who needs help, there's always support. The way that you guys show your support is outstanding and it's immaculate. I want to say from the bottom of my heart that I do appreciate the time and effort that you guys put into this as well.


There is support no matter where you're at in your journey. No matter if you know someone who needs help, there's always support.


Jonathan, I feel like you should be a spokesperson for Angel Flight and the fact that you still talk to Jose 3 or 4 days a week just shows how our pilots are an extension of us and the support for the passengers we fly. Also, now that you can be there to support him, I think is so special and the story of Angel Flight. It’s why we started this show to share these stories, the background, and the fact that you guys both still talk to each other, we would never know that.


Take Off Talk with Angel Flight East | Jonathan | Grace Healthcare Services


The communication I have with you guys, even reaching out to David and having the opportunity to be on this podcast is going to show the community that there is a support system out there. You just have to do your little research to find it but if you show the community that we are a program that's able to assist with the right people that deal with this on a daily basis. I'm pretty sure Angel Flight deals with different types of prognosis, but it does touch the ones that do have cancer because they're pretty much in the end-of-life journey.

Also, to be able to grant the wish, especially with Maria, who was my patient, even throughout the whole experience, even when she did transition for us to get the feedback and they feedback about Angel Flight to say, “You put my wife at ease and you were able to grant her wish,” because their story was a little touching. They came down to New Jersey to start a brand new life and the wife just declined rapidly so to be able to grant that wish and get her back to her grandchildren and her children for her to transition peacefully, that's something I'm always going to take with me regardless.

I deal with patients who may not have that support and may not have family members on the other side. You also do have ones who do have family members and they want to be supportive, but they just don't know how to navigate the support because again, end of life journey is not for everyone. For you guys, as Angel Flight to be able to deal with someone that's going through an end-of-life journey, that's very outstanding to the point that I feel like Angel Flight should be written on all billboards. Angel Flight is here to support you.

You guys are amazing. Your group is amazing and even the outreach that you guys were saying, “Can you join us on the show?” I was skeptical about it at first because I don't do public speaking too well. It’s something I shy from for a while but to be able to take this opportunity and speak with you guys and show people that there is support out there and a team that stands by you. You just need to do your little research.

I hope the community realizes that Angel Flight is the way to go and that's from a personal experience. I can't talk to everyone, but I will always use you guys regardless of what it is. Using you guys personally for a family member, navigating a family that needs help getting across state lines, or trying to get them over to a maybe a country. You never know but I'm always going to use you guys regardless.

Grace Healthcare Services 

As much as I love to talk about how great we are, I also want to hear a little bit more about Grace Healthcare Services. Can you fill us in on what other specializations, programs, and things that are going on?

Our president, her name is Jill Levine. She's the president of Grace Healthcare Services. She's the one who has business partners that are also in conjunction with her. By hearing the background history from the president directly, the way Grace Healthcare Services started was they had a long-time friend who dealt with cancer and also was dealing with her end-of-life journey due to her cancer.

What I understand is there weren't too many services out there or hospice services that were servicing all levels of hospice. She created a program that will do all levels of hospice. There is routine hospice. Routine hospice is basically where you grant a family or a friend a wish to transition into a facility, a nursing home, or a home. You also have genuine patient, which is where the patient is in critical condition but needs the hospice service.

We bring hospice to the bedside. We are a scattered-bed hospice. What I'm trying to say here is that we take hospice and we bring it to them at bedside. Wherever they at in the hospital, they'll always get comfort care, and the hospice group to visit them and do daily visits. However, Grace Healthcare Services focuses on hospice at all levels of hospice. We're a hospice company.

I never realized that hospice was like a leveled thing. I feel like I always heard hospice to mean end of life but then I've also heard about people going on hospice and coming off of hospice.

That is true. There is some diagnosis and prognosis out there that you can graduate from hospice if the family and the physician see there is progression moving forward the right way. You can lean off a hospice. It means that if somebody is progressing well and feels like hospice services are not for them at the moment because they're progressing in their diagnosis, they can graduate from hospice. It means that you can sign off for hospice.

A lot of families, what I realize is that they don't like to use the word hospice because it comes off harsh and people think that it's a rush process. What I've learned dealing with my nurses and dealing with my staff and understanding hospice because I have only been doing hospice for seven months. Before this, I was an operational manager for a radiology center, but I transitioned my career path to hospice because of my own experiences. Being able to work with a patient on their end-of-life journey and being able to understand where the patient is currently on their journey while they're here, we make a difference.

We are explaining to the families that this is a program to keep the patient comfortable at all times. That's exactly what hospice is. It's for comfort. It's no longer curative. If a patient can no longer get any curative measures and just wants to be kept comfortable and that's their wish to be comfortable at all times com, that's where hospice and comfort care play a part. Again, hospice is a word that not everyone likes to use. You can call it comfort care, but in reality, comfort care is hospice, if that makes sense.

Jonathan, I would never think you had any issues with public speaking because you're so incredibly well-spoken and the fact that you've only been in this field for seven months, I would never think that just because you speak about it so compassionately. Also, the fact that you're in this field, I can't imagine how difficult your day-to-day is, so we commend you for what you do as well.

I commend my team. If it wasn't for Jill Levine, who is the president, and having this platform, you wouldn't see a Jonathan in hospice but I do appreciate Julia, who is a nurse practitioner in Livingston. She puts in the orders for comfort care. We also have Faith Foster, who is the hospice liaison. This team that I have here at Livingston is immaculate. They are team players who take hospice to another level.

What I mean by that is that even though we do work a 9:00 to 5:00, we are the type of team members that the family members call us at 10:00 at night and may have a question about their loved ones. Our phones are always accessible because we are firm believers that we're dealing with patients and families that are in a delicate timeframe and you never want to drop the ball to make them feel like they're losing trust in us or they don't have that support system after hours as well. My team at Livingston, if it wasn't for them, you probably wouldn't see a Jonathan, but I do appreciate my team, what they do, and what they stand by with hospice as well. Without them, there wouldn't be a Jonathan.

We're very grateful because I've already internally signed you up for every presentation Jess and I give in the community near you.

You're in our inner circle now.

It's crazy that you guys say that because when a family signs consent, I always laugh with them. I say, “Do you know you guys are signing the consent to adopt me?” They're like, “We adopted you. You’re adopted already.” We're dealing with a delicate time and as I said, some people are willing to understand the transition or part of it and then some people are shy off of reality.

Making it easy on the family is always a trust factor that plays a part in hospice because you never want the family to feel like this is a rushed process. When a family enters into hospice, they're on their own timeframe. What I mean by that is that yes, medication does play a part in their transition factor, but it's 20% medication and 80% is their diagnosis and prognosis.

I think I learned so much on this call.

That's a tip there.


Is there anything else you would like to share with our audience?

Absolutely. This show wants me to start a YouTube channel and a TikTok for hospice. Also, I want to be an advocate for hospice. I know it's weird, but I do want to use my social media platforms to be a hospice talks man because I want the community to know that hospice is there for your end-of-life transition and also, for your support as well. It’s because, in hospice, you also have services like bereavement support, chaplain support, and grieving support.

Hospice is not just here for that short window timeframe. Hospice is here for longevity and being able to support families beyond the transition. What I mean beyond the transition is giving them that bereavement and grieving support. I think that's a support that family members do need. We're there for the ride. We are here to support our families through these rough times in the short window they have but it doesn't stop here. The journey doesn't stop here at all.

I am the type of person that I go a little bit beyond my work. What I mean by that is I stay in touch with all my families because when you come to a point where you have holidays, you are coming across birthdays or Valentine's, those memories start coming back. It's not easy for a family member to grieve on those days because, in reality, they want that person with them. I wish we could live for to 300, 400 years old, but that's not possible. That's reality. Hospice, Grace Healthcare Services, and Angel Flight are here for our community support.

I want to let the community know that wherever you at and whenever you are going through a period, there is a support system and we're here to drive the bus and wherever the bus parks, it parks. I appreciate the opportunity for being able to join you guys on this show. Thank you for helping out Grace Healthcare Services with the flight for Maria. Maria transitioned three days after you guys dropped her off in Ohio. We got the text from her husband.


Keep driving the bus until it finds its final stop.


One of the things that he did want me to mention on this show was without you guys, the transition would never been as easy and peaceful. That came directly from her husband because I did speak to him and I was like, “They invited me to do an episode. Is there anything you want me to tell them?” He did tell me that you guys made this an easy transition and a peaceful transition for their family and I do appreciate that.

Jonathan, we can't get sweaty eyes this early.can make a difference

No, Jonathan, there's no sweaty eyes allowed.

No, but it's the truth. I'm going to send an email out to you guys with the picture that we received from the family with Jose Ramos. I'm not sure if you guys received that, but this case was a delicate case for all of us because you guys had also a colleague who is dealing with this situation. This one touched everybody. I want to say thank you to you guys. You guys are awesome and keep on the platform. Keep going strong and keep driving the bus. Keep driving the bus, and wherever the bus parks, it parks.

Thank you so much, Jonathan, for sharing your story. This has been incredible.

No problem.

This is awesome.

Is there anything that you guys would like to know about hospice or not really?

I think that I've learned more about hospice in this conversation than I knew that there was to even know about hospice. Keep us up to date on your YouTube and TikTokventures and we can share it along with all the readers who are involved here. We're so excited for your journey as well.

I appreciate you guys. Thank you for your journey. I hope your journey goes well. It was nice meeting you, Jessica and Madeline. It was a pleasure talking you too to you as well. As I said, just keep your head strong and keep punching the bag every day. We're going to get these good knockouts here. We appreciate you guys and thank you for inviting Grace Healthcare Services to your platform as well.

Thanks, Jonathan.

Have a great day.

No problem. You too guys.


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