I’ll tell you right now, this post has little to do with anything remotely marketing, strategy or social media related. It is tangentially related to customer experience in a healthcare setting, but that is not why I am writing it.
It has to do with being human. And with gratitude. Which, I would argue, are slightly more important matters.
My 85-year old father had surgery yesterday. He’s been my best friend since I was a little girl. He let me dance on his feet. He blows bubbles like a little kid on the beach, and swims even when it’s so cold that no one else will. He payed my way through college. He supported me when I dropped out of college and moved to California briefly. And when I came back. And every day since. He worked at a concert venue until he was over 80, and digs the Red Hot Chili Peppers. And, as if that’s not enough, he was a navigator on bombing missions over Germany in WWII.
As a hospital patient, he is a total pain in the behind.
He doesn’t follow important medical instructions. He won’t accept help getting around, even when he needs it. He threatens to take out his own IV. He jumps to every possible worst-case scenario about his health, when none of them appear to be true. He complains about the bad communication, when really, he just can’t hear because he is too stubborn to get digital hearing aids. He rants incessantly about the cost of healthcare to the people who are just in the trenches, busting their butts to try to help people.
The nurses, however, are saints.
They understand, with coaching from Scott-the-very-kind-hospital-chaplain, that my very beloved pain-in-the-ass of a father is reacting to the total loss of control that he is experiencing. They remain firm and calm, even when I am yelling at him to stop being mean and leave his IV alone. (I am not mean, but sometimes yelling is all he responds to. It gets his attention, at least.)
In a setting where I have long questioned why the patient experience is so lacking, I now realize: the nurses ARE the “patience”, the glue, that hold all of it, and all of us, together when times are tough. They are so kind, so caring, that everything else about the patient experience that often fails us really must be kept in perspective.
The pre-registration mix up that’s too convoluted to attempt to explain here. The near miss on giving Dad antibiotics to which he is allergic. The doctor who “didn’t know” that I was anxiously waiting for news long after the surgery had ended, and who never came out to give me so much as the time of day. The broken telephone in my Dad’s room, so when family was trying to call him after surgery, he wasn’t getting any calls. The conflicting information received from doctor and nurse about what was happening the day after the surgery.
None of it matters all that much, compared to the quiet acts of heroism that are happening the whole time.
I work for an advertising agency, integrated marketing firm, brand strategist blah blah blah. And sometimes I am under the illusion that it is difficult. It is not difficult.
It is a walk in the park compared to what Nurse Debbie and Nurse Lori at Elmbrook Memorial Hospital did today.
Thank you, to all the nurses.