Friday, March 20, 2009

Coming to terms with things as they are

I have been struck by the outpouring of interest in and support for BIDMC's approach to solving our budgetary shortfall this year. Starting with Kevin Cullen's story in the Boston Globe, which was spread throughout the country and picked up on dozens of blogs and elsewhere, people seem to be looking for good news in these hard times. Here, within the hospital, we have learned a lot about our colleagues when we face adversity and band together to solve problems.

But, it is not always an easy lesson. Sometimes it is downright painful to get there. Here is one incredibly honest and insightful email I received from Lois, a manager in our Department of Medicine.

Dear Paul,

Thank you for the opportunity to have an open air debate. I'm discouraged by the cuts that are necessary, but recognize that given this severe economic downturn that cuts are necessary. Lately, when I am with people who are complaining, or have a lack of understanding of the issues, I've been asking them what they would do differently. Usually they don't have an answer. As a manager, I applaud you for taking a thoughtful, difficult way, by choosing transparency in the process. I know that none of these decisions are easy.

Last evening, I went to a lecture by Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of the Mindfulness Stress Reduction Clinic at U Mass Med School. I had to look at my own feelings. Yes, I want to support the lower wage earners. But, I found myself resisting when it means personal sacrifice. I was surprised at how much my fear was blunting my usually generous heart.

Jon Kabat-Zinn defined healing as "coming to terms with things as they are, allowing things to unfold, and recognizing our interconnectedness." You are choosing a different way of handling this challenge, I think we will learn much from the process. I even dare to believe that we will become a community of healing for one another, just as we are for our patients.


1 comment:

Medical Quack said...

Read the articles on the web today, wonder why all hospitals don't follow the same direction, great idea and it really helps. Here's a little bit more from the Chicago Sun Times with my "Desperate Hospitals" update and note as to the same, why don't all hospitals approach the situation in the same manner.