Last week I went to the funeral of one of my most favorite patients. This woman touched so many of us across our organization. When she was first diagnosed she was scared and questioned everything. Her fear was palpable. Over time and through continuous efforts she relied on us for support and was given it with open arms by the loving and quality-driven team here at the Botsford Cancer Center.
As I sat and listened to the priest tell stories about her and her family at the funeral, I looked around the packed room at all of the friends and relatives that this particular patient had. The stories were heartwarming.
As healthcare providers we are not only caring for the patient themselves but all of their close friends and family members.
The kindness, concern and care that we show for the individual patient has an effect on a very large number of people. The quality-of-life of each patient is affected by the care that they receive, which influences their interactions with their loved ones.
A family member who is sitting bedside in the hospital with their loved one experiences a vast array of emotions. When a loved one is not well the friend or family member may feel uncertainty, worry or grief. These are trying, challenging and worrisome times for a patient or loved one.
I define healthcare providers as anyone who cares for or interacts with a patient in the healthcare setting, including licensed personnel and volunteers. The largest difference can be made by the interactions we have with each patient. The providers include: the nurse, doctor, transporter, receptionist, volunteer, pharmacist, environmental services employee, maintenance, aide, technologist, therapist, etc. As healthcare providers we can alleviate the fear and loss of control experienced through genuine relationship building.
These interactions such as getting a patient a warm blanket, offering something to drink or just asking how they are doing can make a difference.
By expressing kindness, concern, by listening or just taking a minute to show that you care could help alleviate some of the emotional burdens that these patients and their families have to shoulder.
In her final days she knew her time had come and she came to visit us. She thanked us for the love and compassion that she received and for the never ending support. She gave us a card that said, “It’s sometimes easy to forget that there are nice people out there doing nice things for others. Thanks for being such a special reminder.”
We were blessed that she allowed us the opportunity to care for her. When given a chance to make a difference in someone’s life – make it.