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Friday, July 22, 2011

They get it

In the speaking that I do for healthcare professionals, I work to encourage and challenge them on the quality of care and the safety they provide to their patients. One of the things that has become very apparent to me is the importance of remembering one simple but significant fact--we are all people. We (neither the medical professional nor their patient) are not numbers or statistics or cases or events. We are people. When a tragedy strikes in a hospital, people from both sides of the bed are impacted. There are victims in all corners of the "room." I think coming back to this simple truth is a huge first-step in changing the way healthcare--and life in general--are done.

So, I love it when I see an organization or a wing of a hospital or a team of professionals or an average family that gets it. And I love to applaud them when they do. This week was just one example of a group of people understanding how important it is that we treat each other with compassion.

Lisa and I were with the associates of Christus Spohn Health System in Corpus Christi, Texas. They are a wonderful group of people who are, honestly, trying to bounce back from a rough period in their recent history. I think they are making incredible progress and, based on what I heard this week, will rebuild the trust and quality that they are desiring for an organization. In our time together, they shared "Mission Moments"--highlights of moments in their six hospitals that capture the heart of their mission. Let me share one with you that should remind ALL of us what it means to love others.

They had a patient who was to be terminally extubated--a fancy way of saying that the lady was approaching the end of life and the tube keeping her alive was to be removed. As fate would have it, her husband of 62 years was a patient on the second floor of the same hospital. One very in-tune nurse made the connection between the two and put a plan into motion. This hospital has one particular room with an amazing ocean view--the kind you would pay top dollar for in a local hotel. It actually was the room next to the gentleman's and was empty on this particular day. The nurse got with his team and made arrangements for the couple to be brought into the room for their last moments together. Their beds were arranged so that the two could look each other in the fac --one's head at the other's feet--as the last few minutes of their life together passed. Family was brought in. Pictures were taken. Memories were made. And, as one patient's life came to an end, another's was filled with some final memories that would have never happened if not for this nurse and his team.

Life is fragile. And it is filled with plenty of challenges and changes. We can't avoid them or ignore them. What we can do is empower each other to traverse these rough patches in our journey by bearing them--the pain, the sorrow, the loss and the grief--together.

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