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Heartfelt Thanks

September 11, 1988

Oftentimes, matters involving chronically mentally ill people, who are usually poor, are not pleasant and do not garner much interest from the community at large. So, it's nice to have this relatively positive story to share.

A 63-year-old male patient in our Mental Health Services system (who must remain anonymous, by law) was terminally ill with cancer and dying in a downtown hotel--alone and indigent.

The man's only deathbed wish was to die in Illinois where his elderly parents (84 and 85 years old) and two brothers still live. But the family is poor and unable to make his dream come true--especially since he had to be accompanied by a health worker because of his extremely frail condition.

However, Mental Health Services case manager Karen Hendrickson went the extra mile and discovered "Continental Pilots' Wives," and their "Heart of Gold" charity. This group, made up of just what the name implies, provides free airline travel to families in medical crisis situations--perfect for this case!

A phone call was made to the group's Denver headquarters and the case history discussed. The OK was soon given, and, within hours, reservations were made and tickets paid for: a one-way for the patient and a round trip for an accompanying health worker--all donated by the caring charity.

A mentally disabled man with a terminal disease is now reunited with his loved ones. Our many thanks go out to Continental Pilots' Wives and all of their "hearts of gold."

ARETA CROWELL

Deputy Director, Mental Health Services

County of San Diego

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