Thursday, November 16, 2006

Just bragging

In a posting below, I mentioned a story about bad service at our hospital. But, sometimes I hear stories about our folks that make me really proud to work here. So, here are three. I know I am just bragging -- so if you don't want to feel like you are reading a press release, skip this one! But, if you just want to feel good, read on.

My mother has been a patient in your gerontology department for the past year or so. I am completely blown away by the marvelous, compassionate care taking place there. Dr. B, one of the gerontology fellows, has been simply amazing, going over and above the call of duty. Even though she was working at the Brigham today, she stopped in to see my mother at her appointment--which was followed by hospitalization. Then Dr. M, who saw my mother today, pushed the wheelchair herself from her office to the ER. You should be so proud to have such dedicated professionals working for you.

From a trauma surgeon to the chief of pathology:

I just wanted to thank the Blood Bank personnel for their admirable work on behalf of [x]. If there is some way for you to share this message with them, I would appreciate it. It occurred to me afterwards that in the melee of such a bad operative trauma episode [patient crushed by heavy machinery], we lose track of the fact that there are dedicated folks buried deep in the hospital who feverishly are working with us to provide life-saving blood products, without which this patient certainly would have died.

A letter to one of our trustees:

I thought that I would write you a note to tell you about my experience as a new breast cancer patient.

From the moment that my doctor found the lump, I have been on a journey, one that is scary and emotional. Starting with the biopsy today I have had to see numerous doctors and have been taken care of by a group of compassionate, caring, professional nurses.

Dr. K was the first doctor that I saw. He talked to me for an hour listening to my concerns and answered all my questions. The surgery went very well, due in part to his outstanding skills, I am sure. Then I was off to Dr. R and Dr. L with my husband in tow. He wanted to get another opinion at Dana Farber, but after speaking to them, he didn't feel that it was necesary. They also spent a great deal of time with me going over my diagnosis and treatment opitions.

I am very lucky. I will need radiation for six weeks starting on the 29th of November and will need to take a Taxmofin like pill, then off to the rest of my life and great grandchildren.

It is important for me to let you know that your work for the BIDMC is paying off. If I have to go through the breast cancer then I know that I am at the right place.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great stories, I enjoyed reading them. I don't think we see enough of this side of hospitals! Thanks for sharing.

Roanne Weisman said...

I was moved to write the following story after a recent experience at BIDMC. Roanne Weisman

One recent spring afternoon, I walked through the doors of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center as I have done many times in the past. But this time, I did not carry the tools of my freelance writer’s trade: a laptop computer and a schedule for interviewing doctors and patients. Instead, I carried a small overnight bag and a great deal of anxiety. I was about to become a patient — sent by my doctor for emergency surgery to stop excessive uterine bleeding.
For the past twenty years, I have been writing stories and articles for hospital publications — the glossy magazines and annual reports you might get in the mail. I am proud of the way I help readers understand the important work of doctors and researchers, as well as the ways in which hospitals change the lives of patients by curing disease or treating injury.
While the new treatments and scientific discoveries are thrilling to write about, and the patient stories are moving and inspirational, I have always kept an emotional distance. This gives me necessary professional objectivity: I believe that each hospital I work for has a unique culture, and it is my job to illuminate that culture through the stories of its people.
When I walked through the Feldberg lobby with my overnight bag, however, I lost my objectivity for the first time. For the next twenty-four hours I was to learn firsthand what it means to be a BIDMC patient. This is what I found out.
From the moment I entered the hospital, every Beth Israel Deaconess staff member with whom I came into contact acted as if they already knew me. This began with the receptionist at the front desk, who directed me to the OB-GYN Department, making sure I knew which elevators to take. It continued with the sympathetic intake secretary, and then the surgical nurse, who expertly started an IV, assured me that she would take care of my belongings, and prepared me for surgery.
It included the surgeon, on whose schedule I had suddenly appeared, who offered to call my husband — thousands of miles away on a business trip. Standing by my bedside with a cell phone, she carefully explained to him the emergency and her surgical recommendations, and then patiently answered all of his questions. As I was being wheeled on a stretcher to the preoperative holding area, the nurse who had been preparing me squeezed my arm reassuringly, looked into my eyes and told me that everything was going to be fine, that she would be thinking of me.
Outside the operating room, I met the anesthesiologist, who explained the risks and benefits of the general anesthesia that was recommended for this procedure, carefully answering each of my many questions. And I was momentarily surprised by a nurse who, among several medication-related questions, stopped for a moment and said, “Do you feel safe in your relationships at home?” I assured her that I did. “What a good idea to screen women for domestic violence," I said, reverting for a moment to my journalist self. She answered, “We ask this of every patient, man or woman, no matter what their ages. If you are being abused or mistreated, what better time to talk about it than when you are here, surrounded by safety?”
At no time did I feel rushed or depersonalized, despite the lateness of the hour and the fact that I was a last-minute addition to the surgical schedule. The surgery was successful, and during the night I spent in the hospital, I met more of the BIDMC medical staff. The compassionate culture of this hospital seemed to emanate from each person who entered my room. This included a young resident whom I saw only once as she came in to check my vital signs at about 3 AM. When I described to her the circumstances that had brought me to the hospital, her face became suffused with genuine distress and she touched me gently. “I’m so sorry,” she said. And I knew that she meant it.
Home now and healing nicely, I have had time to reflect on my experience at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Canter. At a Harvard Medical School teaching hospital one expects the highest levels of medical knowledge and the latest treatments; one expects physicians and surgeons who are at the pinnacle of the profession. I received all of this. But I also received something else, and it feels daring to use this word to describe an institution: The word is love.

Paul Levy said...

Thank you so much for writing this. It means more than you can imagine.