Josh Clement knew about the services provided by High Peaks Hospice & Palliative Care long before the group approached him about doing a promotional video.
The interactive producer at Mountain Lake PBS had witnessed the support the organization had given his late stepmother, Susan Corneau Clement, and her family during her final days.
“I already felt that these were good people and would be happy to help them in some unique way,” Clement said.
However, rather than simply creating an infomercial for High Peaks Hospice, the producer, who creates videos for the PBS web series “Borderless North,” preferred to tell the story of someone who was a recipient of the organization’s care.
“I didn’t know if this meant I would potentially be shooting video of somebody dying,” Clement said.
After all, he noted, “the reality of hospice is it is an organization that is there to help you out in your end of life.”
However, High Peaks, which is based in Saranac Lake, was able to connect Clement with someone who had received its services in the past and lived to speak about it.
“Adirondack Man on Life Journey and Special Connection to High Peaks Hospice” tells the story of 97-year-old Norman Briggs of Jay, whose doctors recommended he seek hospice care due to his heart and kidney problems.
His view of the organization was that it was for people who are bedridden and about to die, he said in the video, but “I didn’t feel that I was bedridden, and I wasn’t anxious to die.”
Still, Briggs turned to High Peaks, an organization that prides itself in offering compassionate care to individuals and families dealing with terminal illness, and was supported by a team comprising a doctor, social worker, chaplain and nurses.
Services available through the group, which people can receive for up to six months at a time, include the providing of medications, medical equipment, in-home counseling and spiritual and pastoral care.
“You couldn’t ask for better people in that job,” Briggs said in the video.
“I can only assume that the combination of all those things sort of got him back rejuvenated again,” Clement told the Press-Republican.
In fact, he said in the video, “although they’re most often associated with the end of one’s life, research has shown that people receiving hospice care can live longer than similar patients who opt out.”
Norman’s wife, Luella, speaks in the piece about how helpful hospice can be for the family members of those who are ill, something that Clement also experienced when working with the organization.
“When my stepmother died, she was very close with my two little children at the time, and they came to us and said, ‘here’s some paperwork, here’s some things you can say to your children,’” he told the Press-Republican.
Clement’s video, which he dedicated to his stepmother, isn’t just about the Briggs’s experience with hospice, though.
It was important to the producer to capture some of his subjects’ history, so viewers will hear from the couple of 53 years about their courtship and learn how Norman helped to build Whiteface Mountain’s first ski lifts.
“I think they (High Peaks Hospice) really appreciated that I put the time in to try to tell the story in a unique way,” Clement said.
The film, which runs just over 11 minutes, premiered at the Amos & Julia Ward Theatre in Jay last month. About 45 people came, including Norman and Luella.
“They had a great time,” Clement said. “They sat right in the front row.”
Email Ashleigh Livingston: firstname.lastname@example.org
CHECK OUT THE VIDEO
"Adirondack Man on Life Journey and Special Connection to High Peaks Hospice" can be viewed online at mountainlake.org/bn. For more information about High Peaks Hospice, visit highpeakshospice.org.
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