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A Hospital’s Unsung Heroes

“We’ve all heard the old African proverb, ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’ Well, it takes a village to save a life, too. [Dr.] Kim and I needed more than 20 people working as a team to save John [an 18-year old ER patient who had been in a head-on collision]. Take one member out of the equation and he likely would have died.” – Dr. Anthony Youn http://www.cnn.com/2012/12/21/health/youn-unsung-heroes/index.html


Meet Annette

Annette had been advised that she should go to the Emergency Room. Her chronic lung disease had progressed to the point where it was difficult to simply walk from her bedroom to the bathroom and a recent ECHO revealed significant pressure around her heart. In fact it was the compassionate cardiovascular tech that had conducted the imaging test, concerned with Annette’s breathing levels and the blue-ish tint to her skin, who had immediately called her pulmonary team of doctors and nurses to share her worries.

So here Annette was in the ER, waiting for a hospital bed to open up so she could start a new medication that was expected to help improve her condition and her quality of life.

Annette’s daughter, Nicole, walked into the emergency room waiting room, distracting herself with the worry of parking so she wouldn’t have to think of the more serious issues at hand. A woman in her 70s, looking tired but warm, sat behind a visitor information desk and immediately smiled.

“Are you looking for a parking voucher?” she asked.

“Yes! Thanks!” replied Nicole, relieved.

Such a simple request and yet it meant the world to Nicole in that moment.

Nicole looked at this elderly woman volunteering her time to assist patients and their loved ones and noticed the fatigue in her eyes.

“How long have you been here?” Nicole asked.

“Eleven hours, but only one hour to go,” the woman smiled.

Quality of Care and Compassion

Annette is finally in a hospital bed. Although most people do not enjoy the prospect of being an admitted patient, Annette probably fits into the category of having an extreme dislike to being in such a place. As a result, her anxiety skyrockets—she even becomes quite depressed wanting to stay only in bed most of the time.

However the allied health team members, as well as the nurses and physicians, do their best to lift Annette’s mood so the physical treatment she receives will be as effective possible. In some cases, the healthcare staff goes above and beyond to provide Annette with quality care.

An LPN tapes a picture of Richard Gere on Annette’s wall to make her laugh. One of the hospital’s physical therapist’s sense of humour and empathetic manner convinces Annette to get out of bed each day for an hour to go for a walk with him. Her gloomy demeanour immediately turns into her old self as she keeps up with his series of jokes. Lisa, Annette’s pulmonary nurse, is amazing and comes in every day to check on her—even on her days off.

Each day, Annette gets a little bit stronger and a little more confident. The new medication seems to be doing the trick. In addition to the new drug, Annette has a completely new schedule of medications to follow. A pharmacy tech comes to see Annette before she is discharged with a schedule she has made up and walks her through the entire regime.

Also before discharge, a social worker meets with Annette and Nicole to discuss how they may get help for Annette at home. She gently talks about home care options, encouraging Annette to take things slow and allow herself to gradually feel better.

A Team of Providers Has Made the Difference

Annette is back at home now and she finds each day better than the previous. She is more independent, able to breathe more effectively and is happy! Lisa, the RN, continues to call often. Just the other day, when Annette went to an outpatient appointment, she saw her wonderful physical therapist from her hospital stay and gave him a vibrant wave.

“Looking good Annette,” he calls as she confidently strolls with her walker.

The numerous unsung heroes that helped Annette during her trying time at the hospital shall never be forgotten. These healthcare professionals treated her as an individual and cared for her as if she was a part of their family.

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