Monthly Archives: December 2019

Our Stories: Practicing gratitude

Our national history shows that in 1621, the Colonists and their Native American allies, the Wampanoag, shared a harvest feast.  This is thought to be one of the first thanksgiving celebrations in the United States.  This tradition continued, on and off, until 1863 when Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the fourth Thursday of November to be a national holiday—Thanksgiving.

These original “feasts” were really a celebration of life based on a successful harvest during times of significant hardship.  They celebrated their crops and they celebrated their families and friends.  This holiday is referred to by some as a day to celebrate with happy gratitude.  Many of us are blessed to be able to have this time of celebration with our family and friends.  Although we celebrate today, for many of us as a day of excess, the original Americans celebrated their ability to survive.

As your chief medical officer, a physician, and a patient, there is much for me to reflect on with happy gratitude.  We have a fantastic team who takes excellent care of our patients each and every day, and does it through unconditional support of each other.  Though there are times when we stumble, as the need arises the team with UI Health Care can always be counted on to rise to the occasion and bring forth our best.  I would be living in fantasyland if I did not also recognize the many hardships that we face each and every day.  Though our struggles are different than those first Americans, the effort required to overcome them are just as great.

I write to you today to express my sincerest gratitude for what you do each and every day for our patients, their families, and all who work at UI Health Care.  Although we all, I may be the worst, tend to look toward tomorrow and how we can be better, now is an excellent time for us to look back and celebrate.  I recently received an unsolicited note from a patient:

“… whomever is responsible for the amazing turnaround that appears to have occurred in patient services at UIHC should be commended and recognized. I have a considerable history at UIHC …. and have experienced the best care I could imagine. However, the services surrounding the direct care, as you know, have not always been great.

“Things have obviously changed for me and, I assume, others. For example, I walked into the digestive disorders clinic one afternoon bleeding from a polyp removal.  The staff said Dr, Gerke would be a minute. Dr. Gerke, completing a procedure  on another patient, met with me and indicated that though it didn’t appear to be an emergency he couldn’t be sure.  I could either go to the emergency room, stay the night and get prepped for a colonoscopy the next morning or, surprisingly, go back with his team and have the procedure, unsedated, NOW.   I chose the ‘NOW.’ I left an hour later, repaired, impressed, and laughing about the experience and pain.  There is no place in the world I could have gotten that kind of care.

“Though not as dramatic my recent experiences with your other clinics have also improved my perceptions of UHIC patient care and services. I hope your success continues. “

“Whomever is responsible”, is you!  And this is only the start.  Did you know that in fiscal year 19, we:

*The following numbers are rough estimates
  • Provided around 2,593,606 million meals
  • Volunteered over 110,000 hours
  • Cared for over 55,000 ETC patients (with over 740 being transported via AirCare)
  • Preformed over 34,000 surgical procedures
  • Provided over 315,000 radiographic exams and treatments
  • Filled over 2.2 million pharmacy orders
  • Provided around 5.5 million laboratory tests
  • Trained over 1800 students in Health Education
  • Provided over 220,000 social service consultations
  • Privileged 258 new providers, modified 120 current providers, and reaffirmed 762 providers
  • Submitted 15,811 PSNs
  • Submitted 218 NIH grants
  • Published 2,797 research pieces

And since January 1, 2019, we have:

  • Cared for over 27,755 inpatients
  • Delivered over 2,111 babies
  • Saw and cared for around 890,000 patients in clinics
  • Helped over 325 colleagues COPE with a challenging work-related experience

And we have successfully undergone 4 accreditation visits from the Joint Commission including our massive triennial survey.

All of this while improving our surgical site infection rates, our central line blood stream rates, our medication errors, our hospital acquired pressure ulcers, and our patient satisfaction metrics in nearly every category and achieving an all time high on our nurse and doctor communication HCAHPS.   And there is some much more to this amazing story….

This is Our Story and it makes me proud and filled with happy gratitude.   Take a moment to step back and be grateful to yourself and to quote one of our quality leaders, “Go (continue to) Be Great”!!


—Theresa Brennan, MD, Chief Medical Officer