My 89 year old mother recently sufferred heart failure with complications from pneumonia. Our experience in the hospital provided another example of good people losing sight of their sacred mission.
My mother received the best medical care in that the symptoms were treated, the heart failure was mitigated and the pneumonia was cured. For that we are thankful. However, the focus was on “curing” the disease rather than healing the person.
Let me give some examples. No one asked about my mother’s abilities prior to her arriving in the hosptial. It was assumed that she had not been mobile, that she sufferred from dementia and that she could not care for herself. These assumptions set the expectations for the outcomes of her treatment even though none of them were accurate. She was just another elderly patient like all the other elderly patients the staff saw on a daily basis. She was not seen as someone’s mother with a personality and the will to fight. Someone who had bounced back before wihen the doctors had given up hope. She was lucky because we as a family were there to make sure they understood the “person” they were caring for – not just a patient with a set of symptoms. Unfortunately, we saw many who had no advocates.
She was told at 11 a.m. that she would be moved from the hospital to a skilled nursing facility. I asked that the move happen during daylight hours because she would become more disoriented. I was told that the staff understood my concerns but they couldn’t guarantee the time of the move. Sure enough the move took place in the dark at 7:30 p.m. and sure enough my mother became more disoriented making her recovery even more difficult. This is what we do to disorient terror suspects. Blindfold them, move them around in the middle of the night and wake them at all hours so they are deprived of sleep. Sounds like the hospital and nursing home to me.
Each of the individuals who cared for my mother were decent human beings and good at the technical side of their jobs. However, with a few exceptions, they had become disconnected from their sacred purpose and that disconnect had negative consequences for my mother’s health. The solution here is not more money but leadership that builds a culture that sustains that connection to sacred purpose. In the long run, that connection to purpose saves money, improves profits and leads to “healing” at the physical, emotional and spritual levels for both paients and providers.
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