This summer, my mother entered a hospital in Virginia, and within a few days, she passed away from complications of stage 4 lung cancer that she had battled for a while. The sadness I feel from her death comes in waves, but shortly after my siblings and I left the hospital, I sent a note to the chief nursing officer thanking her and her team for the outstanding care my mother and our family received.
From the moment I walked into the Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU), I was impressed with all my interactions. As part of the implementation team with a health information and technology organization and as a nurse, my expectations are very high for what I do in my role. Making a positive impact and helping my clients to be the best providers of care in any setting is what I thrive on. I have been in the healthcare industry for over 20 years. The care I witnessed and felt from this team of providers was remarkable—thoughtful, intentional, kind and clinically sound.
The time spent listening, as well as explaining and helping my siblings understand the clinical process, was phenomenal. As much as I tried to only be a daughter caring for and being with my mother, I wasn’t able to fully disconnect from my nursing background. But this team didn’t miss a beat during handoff from shift to shift. They were thoughtful in their language and how they discussed critical information with our family.
They gave us our space to be with mom in her remaining hours after she was taken off the ventilator. We didn’t need much. We wanted to be with her, and for her to be in as little pain as possible, and they allowed those things to happen.
As a healthcare advisor, I believed their purposeful actions were due in part to how this team was led. It wasn’t just one individual nurse who connected with us—it was shift after shift of people.
It’s been a difficult few months but knowing that my mother was well cared for and comfortable during her final days and hours has given me some relief. So much of what we do in the health IT consulting industry is to make sure systems, operations and processes run smoothly. This personal experience was the best reminder that we cannot take the humanness out of healthcare. We can, however, improve efficiencies while keeping the human factor front and center.
I was also reminded that we have no idea what could be going on in the lives of the people who take care of us and our loved ones, yet they show up every day and do this work. There was not a single interaction—not a single one—where someone was too busy to talk us through things. For that, I am truly thankful.
I will leave you with this moment. The night mom passed, we were given lab vials with a monitor strip of her heartbeat placed inside. It brought me to tears after I left that night (in a good way). I know everyone may not appreciate this gesture, but for me it was truly remarkable. During a very stressful time, this team was amazingly gracious. We can learn from their excellence and recommit ourselves to delivering meaningful impact for our clients every day.
The views and opinions expressed in this blog or by commenters are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of HIMSS or its affiliates.
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Originally published September 27, 2019