Don’t Wait: Biking to Spread the Message

By: Taylor Andres

Dr. Keith Lagnese, chief medical officer of Family Hospice & Palliative Care, part of UPMC, rode along for a portion of a statewide bike tour being done by Dr. Ric Baxter, a hospice and palliative care doctor at St. Luke’s University Health Network. Baxter stopped at Canterbury Place, a part of UPMC Senior Communities and home to Family Hospice’s inpatient unit, to meet with staff members and pick-up Lagnese, who accompanied him for the ride from Pittsburgh to Altoona.

“I’m not a big public speaker, it’s not something I like to do” said Baxter. “Getting on my bike was my way of opening a door to stand up and speak.”

Baxter has embarked on a month-long bike tour across Pennsylvania to spread the message: don’t wait. At age 67, he hopes his 800-mile journey will encourage others to make the most of their time and live life to the fullest before it’s too late. The message was inspired by Baxter’s time working in end-of-life care and helping patients to fulfill their last wishes.

“I was happy to join Dr. Baxter to help spread this important message for both patients and care providers,” said Lagnese.

While speaking with UPMC staff, Baxter expressed the importance of meeting the needs of patients while also meeting the needs of oneself. He talked about the importance of patient-provider relationships and explained that everyone has their own definition of a “good death.”

“The work we do is intimate; it is meeting people at the most vulnerable time of their lives” said Baxter. “Patients deserve for us to open up to them as they open up to us, to establish a relationship — bring your whole self to the experience.”

In addition to Family Hospice at Canterbury Place, Baxter visited three other UPMC hospice and palliative care sites, including Susquehanna Home Care and Hospice, the Visiting Nurses Association of Venango County Home Care, and Hospice and Family Hospice – East in Ebensburg and Altoona.

For further information on UPMC’s hospice and palliative care services or senior living communities, visit The UPMC Palliative and Supportive Institute or UPMC Senior Communities.