In my previous blog, I shared a story about a dying physician and how he gave his best to “that patient” on his last day in the operating room. Since then I have received two letters that I want to share with you today. These letters illustrate the importance of each of you and the role you play here at UI health Care. The first is from a member of our own UI Health Care family. The words are so true and I appreciate the ability to share them with you.
I am not a physician, a nurse, a medical assistant, a perfusionist or any one of our staff who provide care directly to our patients every day. So I struggled a bit with Teri’s column in the last Quest… about giving each individual patient the best of me every day… I don’t have patients. There is a reason Teri is a care provider and I’m not… my job is (different). My job is to explain … sometimes this is easy, and sometimes it can be downright difficult 🙂 I chose a different path, I’m better with (what I do in my role), I’m better at interacting with staff. I realized very early that I’m not wired to provide patient care.
So how does her column relate to me? What is it I do every day that impacts this patient or that patient? What does the person processing claims do every day for this patient or that patient? For many of us our world is two degrees removed from the face of each patient, how can we feel that same connection? Well… by golly… for those of us in the hospital, we make that connection in the hall when we help someone find their way… we make the connection when we smile or play peekaboo with the child in the elevator… we make a difference when we prepare a meal for that patient on a special diet… we make a difference when we fix the ventilation so that the air flow is safe… or when we put a finger to our lips when we hear staff speaking to loud about a patient. For the non-patient care staff in off-site locations, you make a difference to that patient or this patient when you program an easy way for a clinician to sign on to the computer… you make a difference when you ensure that we have contracts with payers so we can get paid and keep the lights on… you make a difference when you transcribe the report to go out to the referring physician.
I know I’ve not captured all the ways each and every one of us makes a difference for this patient or that patient… but each of us in our own way helps those care providers on the front line… they represent our faces, too. So next time Teri is entrusted with the life of her patient… in the background… we all share in her wonderful privilege to treat that one patient and thank him or her for choosing us.
Shortly after receiving the first letter, I received the following letter from a patient. The patient has given me permission to share this with you. This is a patient who spent a lot of time in our hospital, interacting with many front line staff and faculty. This is a patient who understood that it takes a team to run a great hospital.
To the Staff on the Sixth Floor RC,
Thank you to the nurses who gave me intelligent care, hope when I was losing mine, humor, straight talk, good explanations about medications, answered my questions without judgment, and advocated for me when I was too sick to do so. I do not think people really appreciate the stamina and knowledge it takes to be a professional RN.
Thank you to the nursing assistants for helping me when I was too unsteady, who often anticipated what I might need, their encouragement, humor, and making me laugh while helping me heal.
Thank you to the housekeepers who helped keep me safe, a very important part of the healthcare team, by keeping everything so clean. Thank you for being efficient, polite, and talking very briefly with me about books, kids, your hobbies, etc. while you continued to work. It gave me a boost to focus on something else besides my illness.
Thank you to the clerks who gave information to my friends/visitors, which helped them to feel comfortable in the hospital.
Thanks to the social workers who guided me through the paperwork and supported my decisions.
Thank you to the people behind the scenes; pharmacists, computer folks, plumbers, electricians, other maintenance people, food service, the people who took my food requests and the volunteers in the patient library.
Thank you to the sneaker brigade, all those doctors in training, for choosing your profession despite the costs, long hours, and many years of study.
Thanks to all the doctors who explained things thoroughly, answered my questions, listened to my concerns, and educated me about my illness and options for treatment. My priority with doctors is intelligence with good diagnostic skills. During my hospitalization I got that, plus respectfulness and good humor.
During my three hospitalizations despite my pain, teariness, fighting my fears, push of speech from the medication, and all my questions and concerns, I came to understand that this experienced, intelligent, and caring staff would take very good care of me.
I am so grateful to have received such wonderful, professional, intelligent care from a great team of people who despite long hours and many patients, provided better care than I could have hoped to receive. This was accomplished with respect, good humor, and kindness.
I wish there was a special word to express how I think and feel about all of you but until that word is invented please accept my heartfelt thank you.
I was amazed that this patient realized the importance of so many aspects of our team! What a wonderful feeling I had reading it! I hope that you did as well.
Both of these letters show that no matter your occupation, or your duty, as a member of our team, you are important and you have an enormous power each and every day. The power you possess is the ability to make a difference in the life of a patient, a family member, or a member of our staff. The knowledge that you have made that difference becomes a personal reward; this is the true value you bring to our patients, their families, our staff, and our community. We need this positive reinforcement to continue to endure the challenges we face each day. This is what keeps us going that “extra inch” and it is what keeps us engaged in our UI Health Care team. It is what drives us to continuously improve by being our “best” every day. It is what makes me do what I do and it makes me grateful to be a part of this team.
I hear frequently about the greatness of our staff. I suspect that each of you do not hear as frequently as you should about the great work you do. I am grateful for each and every one of you as a part of our team and I hope that you recognize how important you are in creating “Our Stories” for our patients, their families, and our staff.
And tomorrow….with these stories in mind, I challenge each of us to find your meaning, your inspiration. “How can I make a difference for my co-workers, our patients, and families today?”
Thank you for all your hard work! Every day you create “Our Stories”!
—Theresa Brennan, MD, Chief Medical Officer