Monday, April 28, 2008

How good does this make you feel?

This email is reprinted with permission. I have omitted the person's name and redacted several details of personal and family medical history.

Dear Mr. Levy,

I am a Surgical Technician on the West Campus. I am writing to you to let you know about the truly special group of staff members you have on the fourth and fifth floors of the West Campus. These special people are my co-workers. I refer not just to my fellow surgical techs, but to the nurses, doctors, residents and anesthesia staff I work with every day. As outstanding as they all are in delivering care to patients, and doing so with Compassion, Professionalism, Respect and Integrity, they rise to heights you should be made aware of when it comes to one of their own.

The world should know what a special group of people we have here at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. I remember at my orientation you came by to say "hello", and about a month later recognized me as a new employee and stopped to ask how it was going. That meant a lot then. Your kindness means a lot now. I have worked at the other major hospitals in Boston, and spoken to people from all over. No other place can a Surgical Technician and Nurse walk into an O.R. and have the attending ask how your kid's soccer game was this weekend, or us ask how their family reunion went. The same holds true for Anesthesia with nursing, the attendings with anesthesia, etc.

In most places of this size all the disciplines have their own worlds, their own lounges and spaces that never interact with one another. I hear it all the time. "You had lunch with Dr......!"., "What do you mean you hang out with attendings?", and it goes on and on. As I said, it starts at the top, and we see that in our O.R. (and the locker room) with Dr. Hurst (Note: Acting Chief of Surgery and trauma surgeon). I know many of my co-workers would follow that man into Hell. On some nights we do. Please continue to bring people of integrity like him, Dr. Joe Upton, Dr. Ben Schneider, Dr. Dan Jones, Dr. Ken Rodriguez, Dr. Bernard Lee, and all the rest of the staff we have on board. I could keep naming names. They inspire and encourage us each and every day.

Please allow me a moment of your time to tell you my story. The last year has been pretty much Hell for me and my family. (Details of family medical history omitted.) The world as I knew it had been turned upside down. I cannot begin to express the support from my B.I.D.M.C. family. It was inspiring.

I followed that up with being a patient on the West Campus. No less that 30 people visited with my wife and I in the pre-op holding area. Not only was my wife, a surg tech at (another hospital) was totally impressed by all of this. The other patients in the holding area must have thought I was related to you! My wife got a chance to see the family I speak so much and highly of up close and in person. The post op care was even more impressive.

Sounds like things could not get worse, but unfortunately they did. On Monday of last week, April 21, 2008, I was caring for my mother while my sister took a much needed two week vacation and I had a heart attack. My life and my family were once again rocked to the core. I was rushed to the Lahey Clinic in Burlington. I had three stents placed that day and was scared for my life.

I know this is sounding like a sad story, but it really is not. You see, this is where my coworkers and your employees once again carried me and my family when we were unable to do so ourselves. That very night my Nurse Manager called me in the hospital to see how I was and tell me not to worry about my job, just focus on what was important: my getting better and my family's well being. The calls started coming in that night to my wife's cell phone and directly to me from more people that I could imagine, all with the same message, " What can we do? How can we help?". I cannot begin to tell you the tears I shed, nor how humbling it is to have so many offer so much in our time of need. The next day once again my coworkers/family had my back. The cards, emails , and calls from surgeons, nurses and techs were non-stop. Offers of transportation to watching our daughter, to surgeons asking who do I call for you, or what can I do? WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!! How Blessed am I to have such a special work family that would go to these extents for me and my family?

I want to let you know that the doctors at the Lahey tell me I was VERY lucky and the stents are in a secondary vessel. The main arteries are unremarkable and there is no damage to my heart that they can see. With a proper diet and exercise I will see my grandchildren grow old. I am 44 and should live at least another 44 years if I follow all the rules. The O.R. staff tells me I am barred from the elevators and my lunches will be scrutinized, so the rest is a piece of cake.

I know this is a long email, and for that I apologize. I could not tell you of the exceptional people you have on the West Campus in just a few lines. I know your day is filled with lots of important business and meetings. I just felt I needed to tell you of a SPECIAL group of people I work side by side with that are my B.I.D.M.C. family. I know you will be as proud of them, as I am indebted, to each and every one. If the world were filled with more people like my co-worker family how special a place it would be.


Anonymous said...

Between the lines of this encouraging story of interpersonal commitment and comraderie at BIDMC is another story. A culture where leaders and staff intermingle and value each other, is one where goals coincide and improvement happens. Can you have a culture of safety without a culture of trust?

Anonymous said...

An excellent story - this is the way it should be in all hospitals.

Thank you,
Jessica Bond
Medical Careerist

Anonymous said...

To the writer: Be well, buddy!

Anonymous said...

Paul - I love it when you post these stories! As a member of the Marketing Department, stories like this really help to fuel the message we try to convey to the public everyday; BIDMC not only delivers state-of-the-art care, but also has a compassionate spirit that no other Boston hospital can match. That story was truly the boost I needed to get the day started! Thank you for sharing!

Anonymous said...

This is a perfect example of compassion in healthcare that I will post to my new facebook group, "Compassion in Healthcare-The Heart of Healing." Please thank the author for sharing the good stuff. We're looking for these stories.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Levy,
I am not surprised by the author's experience... I have been with BIDMC for 3 yrs now, and have the pleasure of working with an amazing group of people in OB/Maternity. I think it is the culture that BIDMC creates and cultivates. We care about one another, just as much as we care for our patients. You can't put a price on that and you can't fit it neatly into a statistical piechart. But to me, it means the world to know I have my BI family. Keep up the good work, thank you for all you do, and to the author, be well and enjoy your new lease on life!
Suzanne Sweeney RN Feldberg/Stoneman 6