Monday, July 28, 2008

Caring provides its own reward

A note from a relative of a patient who made special mention of the fact that he would like for this praise to get wide exposure. Here's the story:

This is a simple thank you for the wonderful job done by some pretty special people at your hospital. Forgive me if I don't get all the names right but I think that it is important that these people to be recognized.

My father was admitted Sunday thru the emergency room last in very serious condition. I won't go in to details of what was wrong, you have the records, but he was extremely critical. I was told about this while I was in Florida and called the hospital ER. I was gently told about his status by a nurse (I think Stacey) and reassured that while very serious, he was alive. We spoke at least 5 or 6 times that day, and each time she was patient with my questions and honest in her answers. Finally I spoke to Dr. Sonnerman who was again very truthful about the situation but in a way that really assured me that my father had a chance of surviving and would be transferred up to MICU as soon as possible.

I guess it was Monday that he did get up to ICU and again the level of honesty and compassion from everyone that I spoke with, nurses and doctors was incredible. I think ICU nurses are a special group of people anyway, and the group that worked with my father was great. Nothing is scarier than being out of town, unable to get to the sick one and having to work THROUGH people. The team includes nurses Pat, Kerry, Dr. Adelman and Dr. Lippincott and Dr. Gillman. Each and everyone one of them was really terrific in communicating what was going on. But there are always people on a great team that seem to rise even above everyone else and should be recognized as the best of the best. Those two are Dr. Howell and one of the ICU Nurses -- Stephanie. I say they were the best not because they helped save him (in fact he passed away last night) but because they made the last days of his life incredibly easy for my father and those of us that loved him.

Dr Howell was straightforward and honest in the description of my father's illness and prognosis. It's not easy for anyone, doctor or not, to sit face to face and lay out the facts of the sickness and the possible choices for us to make on treatment (or, in fact, nontreatment). Dr Howell did this clearly and with compassion. And even if not able to take my call when I want in the hospital always returned the call. You can tell great companies by their great management. I guess the same is true in a hospital department. MICU is special.

Now to the one single person that made me feel compelled to write this note -- Stephanie! (Sorry that I don't know her last name but she was my father's ICU nurse the last two days of his life). First of all, she helped ME. I had my father's living will and definitely knew his wishes. Quality of life was the important thing and to be treated to be able to live a little while longer, or to be in bed for months etc. was not what he wanted. But even knowing that, I knew Saturday when I was going to meet Dr. Gillman and tell him what the plan was, it would be very hard for me to say that my father would rather die than to live an unknown time in machines or in pain. But when I spoke to Stephanie in the morning she had already had a conversation with my father, and he had told her in no uncertain terms his wishes. He was lucid and coherent and was able to speak. So when I got to the hospital, my father repeated his wishes of no treatment, no needles no surgery, but he wanted to be as pain-free as possible for the time he had left.

When I saw my father for the last time Sunday morning, he had deteriorated, and it was pretty certain he would pass in the next 24 hours. I left for the trip back to NY. Stephanie called me twice during the day to say he was resting comfortably and they were increasing the pain killers and keeping him off the ventilator longer. When she called me to tell me he had died at 6:12 pm (she called about 10 -15 minutes after that) she was so compassionate and caring that I felt as sorry for her as I felt for me. She only knew my father a couple of days yet seemed to know more about him and care about him dying peacefully than others that had known him for years.

One should never have to go to a hospital as either a patient or visitor. But if one has, to they should be lucky enough to be taken to BIDMC and meet the people that I met last week. I hope they are in some way rewarded and thanked for their work. Thanks.

I take the chance of saying that their reward comes from knowing they were helpful. They have truly felt your thanks. I add mine to you for sharing this story.


Barbara said...


I agree that caring does provide its own reward. Unfortunately it is not often enough that care providers are given positive feedback from their patients and patients' families. So we created the CareStars(TM) program on to solicit and share such positive feedback. Patients and family members send praise to exemplary staff when they complete a survey on their health care facility. We think this will go a long way in providing health care professionals with the recognition they deserve. I would love to get your feedback.


Anonymous said...

People are motivated to share their critique but rarely take the time to praise. How wonderful that this family member made the time, just days after his father's death, to recognize those individuals who made his father's last days so comfortable.