The Wisconsin Hospital Association sponsors an annual contest called the Wisonsin Health Care Employee Pride Program. According to the entry form, its purpose is to “celebrate your career and recognize your commitment to caring.” I have never entered before, because the reason I take pride in my work is very personal. So personal in fact, that I had never put it into words to share with anyone. But this year I decided to enter. Not because I want to win an award, but because I have heard too many bad health care stories lately. I hope that my story will help the caregivers who read it to understand the profound impact they can have on patients. Below is my entry.
August 7, 2002 was the worst day of my life. That day has also been my career inspiration for the past three years. In short, I work in health care because no one should have to die because they were too afraid to go to the doctor.
My dad called me at around 7:00 a.m. on August 7, 2002 to tell me that my mom was in the hospital. At fist the doctors were not sure what was wrong with her. As the day went on we learned that my mom was suffering from congestive heart failure. I rushed to get to her, but I was too late. My mom passed away that afternoon and I did not get the chance to say goodbye.
We didn’t know my mom was sick. She hated going to the doctor, so she avoided it at all costs. Bad health care experiences from her past kept her from seeking medical care and this avoidance was eventually her demise.
There was a time when I also disliked hospitals. Like my mom, I associated hospitals with sickness and death. But when I became an employee at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center in August 2005, I experienced a profound change in thinking. Thanks to the wonderful people of Aurora St. Luke’s and my own personal Planetree journey, I have learned that hospitals are a place that you go to heal.
Planetree is a philosophy of patient-centered care that teaches employees to look at patients as whole people – mind, body and spirit. In my time at St. Luke’s I have had the great fortune to meet people who have ignited within me a passion for compassionate care. I write for the employee newsletter, so I have the opportunity to meet some amazingly inspiring people.
I have interviewed patients who have triumphed through devastating illnesses. I have spoken with caregivers with extraordinary dedication and compassion for their patients. Not only have these people made me want to be a better person, they have inspired me to share my passion for patient-centered, compassionate care with others. They make me proud to be an employee of Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center.
My hope is that through storytelling in our newsletter and by teaching the Planetree principles to new employees, I can ignite that same passion in others. By inspiring compassionate care, I hope that I can ensure that people will have positive experiences so they will continue to seek the care that they need. Because no one should have to die because they were too afraid to go to the doctor.