Monthly Archives: December 2016

Our Stories: Being Thankful

It is the season when we begin to look back on the year. It is a time of thanksgiving (big T and small t) – so I am not just speaking of turkey and cranberries! I personally have so much to be thankful for. I truly have many blessings in my life, both personal and professional.

It has been 3 months now since my mom passed away. The kindness that I have received from many of you has me simply overwhelmed. I received so many texts and words of caring, support, and sympathy, hugs, prayers, beautiful flowers, and personally selected gifts, and for these I will forever be grateful. I was awed to see those who took the time out of their busy schedule to drive two hours to a small town in Wisconsin (and back!). You are amazing; you touched my heart and brought me to tears. My team kept working and told me not to worry, and not to return until I had time to grieve. Your thoughtfulness at a time when our hospital has been the busiest ever, is so impressive. Words are never enough, but I am truly thankful for you!

I am as well thankful for the doctors who saw that the end was near and took the time to sit with us and talk with us about Mom’s wishes, the acute care nurses who made her last days comfortable, especially Megan (a.k.a., “my ice cream nurse”), the nursing assistants who gently moved her and kept her clean and beautiful, the dieticians who patiently tried to find things that she could eat and that would give her a bit of pleasure, the housekeepers who kept her room clean so that she would not suffer from an infection, and whose kind smile brought a smile to Mom’s face, the palliative care ARNP who arranged for us to take Mom home and spent what seemed like an eternity with us until we were able to accomplish this, the hospice nurses who asked many questions so that they knew her, connected with her and us, then lovingly spoke to her when it wasn’t clear that she could hear us and have called me twice since Mom died just to ask “how are you doing,” and of course, the hospice bath aid, who made Mom laugh on her first day home, and methodically  and skillfully bathed her to keep her clean and carefully massaged her skin with lotion just as if Mom were her own mother. I am thankful for the great medical care, but most of all, I am thankful for the compassion and caring they showed my mom and my family.

This care occurred at another hospital, but I could say these same words, bring on these same emotions, and find these same caring behaviors performed within our hospital each and every day. For this, I am thankful for you.

Here a few of the many examples about our own UI Health Care family:

  • (Patient) called with multiple compliments for her Ortho Trauma doctor, Dr. Michael C. Willey. She states he saved her leg from amputation. He treated her like a person, not a number. She can’t say enough good things about him. She said she has never been high-fived by a doctor before! He is thoughtful and caring and she thinks the world of him.
  • My mother spent three days at 5th floor SNICU. We had two of the most wonderful male nurses, Rob and Austin, who were so professional and caring. Thank you so much. We will forever be grateful. The family of (Patient).
  • Dr. Callaghan has performed 2 successful hip replacements for me. One of the items that is stressed post-surgical is to contact the doctor about any cuts or infections; which could result in complications at the surgical site. Late afternoon 9/29, I was stung by a hornet near my right knee which is the same side that hip replacement surgery was performed on 6/14/2016 . . . the sting sight turned yellow and red inflammation spread approx. 3-4 inches in from the sting sight. On Monday morning 10/3, I called into the orthopedic department and spoke with Dr. Callaghan’s scheduler Lori Yoder. Lori advised she would speak with Dr. Callaghan’s nurse, Deb. Deb returned my call and inquired if I had a smart phone to send a picture . . . within 15 minutes after receiving my picture, she returned another call advising that Dr. Callaghan wanted to check the condition as soon as I could get to the hospital. Dr. Callaghan examined the sting sight and for fluid and/or swelling in the knee joint. He had a prescription for Cephalexin 500 mg capsules sent to my pharmacy. He advised me to call him if my condition did not improve. After taking the medicine that afternoon and evening, the inflammation and yellow at the sting sight noticeably improved. I’m a soon to be 69 year old male, whose quality of life had been significantly diminished as a result of osteoarthritis in my hips. Dr. Callaghan has given me back mobility without pain, and his follow-thru is extraordinary, when patients communicate concerns about potential infections, which if unattended might result in reconstructive surgery. Dr. Callaghan has an incredible patient load, so his scheduler Lori and nurse Deb are his gate keepers/screeners. Lori is a great people person who keeps the patients informed and she works with us to accommodate our needs. Deb is a wonderful person and her having me utilize my smart phone to assist Dr. Callaghan with determining when I should see him, is great teamwork. And as for Dr. Callaghan, I am fortunate to be the patient of an outstanding surgeon. Thank you to team Callaghan.
  • Her bedside manner is better than any doctor I have ever encountered. Shalina Shaik is a very intelligent doctor. UI Hospitals and Clinics, UI Health Care are very blessed to have such a great mind working with them.
  • Michael Phillips joined the BTC [Burn Treatment Center] one month ago, but we are already seeing the difference he is making in the unit! He has an effervescent positive personality, and his smile is contagious throughout the unit. This quality is definitely appreciated by the staff, but it also really helps improve the mood of the patients in the unit. It is wonderful to have someone so empathetic and cheerful talking to our patients when they need it the most, and we are very lucky Michael chose to volunteer in the BTC.
  • What an outstanding provider Dr. Prashant Khullar is, and he is a huge asset to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. My dad was brought by ambulance on May 25th from Dubuque, Iowa, and he was a very sick man. Dr. Khullar met our family in the emergency room since he was Dad’s provider while he was an inpatient at the University. Even though my dad doesn’t remember anything during his stay here, our family does and we cannot thank him enough for the care he provided to our dad, the knowledge he had with his case, and the concern he had while Dad was sick and also to be available to answer all of the questions from my family when we needed answers of what was going on with our dad. The care he provided from the moment we met him until Dad’s follow up appointment was always the same—it showed he truly cares about his patients. Dr. Khullar has the best bedside manners I have ever seen in a provider and a caring heart for his patients and that makes him one of the best providers I have ever met. Keep providing excellent care it will always be noticed.
  • We came into UIHC on Tuesday @ 6 am, 7/5/16 for our 31-year-old son, brain stem brain tumor surgery with Dr. Menezes (4th time at ages 10, 11, 21, and now 31). After being checked in by the regular RN who was also very nice, Lynn Fitzpatrick came in to go over and explain the anesthesia part. Her calm and caring manner was very much appreciated as she explained everything to both (patient) and us (his parents) and asked if we had any questions. By the time the time came for her to take (patient) for his surgery, we felt we could completely trust this woman and that (patient) was in the best hands possible, and he was! We also appreciated her stopping in the ICU later to see him, and she was delighted as we were with his alertness and abilities (high fiving everyone, etc.) virtually immediately after arriving at ICU. Lynn’s calmness, caring attitude, and professionalism helped allay our anxiety at a very stressful time.

And I could go on and on and on….

I have learned a lot on the “other side of the patient experience.” In the future, I WILL:

  •  Always try to connect with my patient.
  • Always try to put a smile on my face (even when I don’t feel like it).
  • Always try to ask “is there anything else I can do for you?”
  • Always remember that there is a person behind the medical record number (and strive to give that person the care I wished for and got for my mom).
  • Always remember those who have gone that “extra inch” for me and my family and pay it forward.
  • Always try to make the patient see the team I work with and how valuable each of them are.
  • Never deny my patients, if that is their wish, the opportunity to be cared for by people in the wonderful program called Hospice

As we bring in 2017, WILL YOU . . . consider a commitment to connect with every patient everyday, . . . take every opportunity to lessen their suffering, and . . . focus on our purpose of caring and not be distracted by the hustle and bustle of our every day tasks?

I wish you all a wonderful holiday season and a Happy New Year! I am truly thankful for all you do for our patients, their families, and our staff.

—Theresa Brennan, MD, Chief Medical Officer