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Hospital staff ensure patient can ‘attend' high school graduation

The weekend before he was set to graduate from Lower Dauphin High School, 18-year-old Ben Hoy was playing a game of tackle football with some friends. It was nothing out of the ordinary for this active teen. But, as Ben's dad Doug Hoy describes it, “Things got a little out of hand, as they sometimes do with boys.” A rough tackle left Ben feeling like he'd gotten the wind knocked out of him. The next morning, the pain landed him in the Emergency Department at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, where doctors diagnosed a severely damaged spleen and a significant amount of internal bleeding. Ben headed to surgery later that day.

By Wednesday, it was plain Ben wouldn't be well enough to attend his high school graduation the next day. The high school and a few of Ben's friends decided they would bring the graduation ceremony to Ben via Skype. They tested out the connection during dress rehearsal the day before to make sure Wi-Fi at the Giant Center and the hospital could support the streaming connection. Meantime, Surgical Anesthesia Intensive Care Unit staff got together with Ben's doctors and the Patient Experience Department to plan a graduation party for Ben and his family right in his SAICU room.

On Thursday, June 9, Ben got to attend his graduation virtually from the medical Center, with about a dozen family members sharing the milestone with him thanks to the last-minute coordination between unit nurses, doctors, IT staff, Patient Experience staff, friends, family and high school staff.

Staff decorated every inch of Ben's room with blue and white streamers, graduation balloons and other decorations provided by Patient Experience staff. They ordered a graduation cake and snacks for the family to enjoy after the ceremony. They even printed a stand-in diploma mirroring the real one accepted on his behalf by a favorite teacher, which a teary-eyed Doug Hoy presented to his son simultaneously. Then Ben—wearing a hospital gown and the flat, square navy blue graduate cap—switched his 2016 tassel from right to left side along with his classmates in the Giant Center.
Patient 'attends' high school graduation - Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center
Ben says he would have preferred to have been at graduation in person, of course, but his parents say the virtual ceremony and party were “the next best thing.”

Meantime, a video of Ben and his family watching the graduation ceremony was shared on the Medical Center's Facebook page Thursday evening and had reached more than 147,000 people as of Monday morning.

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