Virtual reality allows Tampa Bay area hospice patients to realize 'bucket list' travel dreams

Gulfside Hospice goes hi-tech for patients

HOLIDAY, Fla. — Bill Gebhardt is swimming with dolphins.

The 79-year-old is also sitting in a cozy chair in his Holiday home wearing AppliedVR virtual reality goggles.

“Mercy!” Gebhardt says to his hospice aide, Malcolm. “If this isn’t reality, I don’t know what is!”

Bill has a lung disease that hinders his breathing. But that is not going to stop him from also visiting Big Ben in London.

Gulfside Hospice is testing out the hi-tech gadget as a way to help patients deal with pain and achieve “bucket list” adventures.

“They’re no longer able to do those dream things they wanted to do,” says Gulfside Hospice’s Carla Armstrong. “This allows them to still do it from the safety and comfort of their own home.”

Bill grew up on a farm in West Virginia. He used the virtual reality technology to visit the rural and mountain landscapes of his youth.

“What a blessing this is for people who can’t get out,” says Gebhardt. “Whoever invented this had a real passion for people.”

Gulfside Hospice welcomes donations to for virtual reality program which will cost more than $30,000 to implement full-time. To learn how to contribute, visit www.ghppc.org.

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