The Fuel That Allows Common People to Attain Uncommon Results

Donna Sollenberger, EVP & CEO, UTMB Health SystemThere is a common thread throughout many of the Friday Flash Report messages: each of us works on a team that in some way, shape or form impacts our patients, and we all have an important role to play in assuring that our patients receive the best possible care. Whatever your role at UTMB, whether you are a nurse, physician, pharmacist, food services employee, physical therapist, patient services specialists or any other employee who either enters patient rooms or has personal contact with a patient, you understand how your interaction with a patient can affect their experience.

In some of those messages, I’ve shared inspiring quotes or stories that reflect upon this theme, but this week, I thought I would share a couple of very touching patient letters I recently received that are testaments to the fact that the work you do, whether in teams or on an individual level, truly touches the lives of our patients and their families.

The first letter came from a patient who had an extraordinary experience with a multidisciplinary UTMB team including Dr. Aakash Gajjar, who specializes in colorectal surgery; Dr. Daniel Beckles, who specializes in minimally invasive cardiac and thoracic surgery; Dr. Avi Markowitz, cancer expert; Nancy Ross, nurse practitioner; and countless others, from patient services specialists to technicians, nurses, medical records staff and pathologists:

“My wife and I were living overseas at the time, headed back to the Houston area for the holidays. The day before our departure, my urologist confirmed by ultrasound that there was a fairly large mass in my abdomen. As it was almost Christmas, we knew it would be difficult to arrange medical appointments. To our pleasant surprise, the UTMB receptionist referred us to Nancy Ross in Dr. Aakash Gajjar’s office. Nancy was quick to arrange an appointment with Dr. Gajjar on the following Monday.

From there, things moved quickly from a diagnostic perspective. And while the news was not all good (what started out as a suspected colorectal issue ended up being stage IV melanoma), we soon had a very clear picture of what we were dealing with and a proposed treatment solution from the UTMB team.

Every aspect of the experience was superior. In my professional life, I am known as a “process guy”. I feel that UTMB’s excellent processes are no accident, but rather the result of a careful, contemplated, well-executed strategy. It is obvious to me that UTMB sees itself not simply as a health care provider, but as a customer services business as well.”

The second letter I received came from a patient who had recently undergone knee replacement surgery. After her experience with the team in the Ortho-Trauma unit and her encounter with one staff member in particular, she says would never think of going anywhere but UTMB for her care.

“I am well on my way to recovery and am confident of a great outcome as time progresses. I wanted to let you and others know of the exceptional person we encountered during the t­wo hospital stays required for my surgery and follow-up. The staff tending to me during these two stays did a fine job, but to my husband and me, one person stood out head and shoulders above the rest—Jill McGinnis, Nurse Clinician I.

Her genuine concern and attention to detail was outstanding to say the least. Her caring manner reflected a person who entered the nursing profession with a desire to help others and she seems to receive great joy in doing so. This young lady goes above and beyond what “must” be done to make sure her patients feel that they are being taken care of.

Jill made me feel that I would try to do the same in caring for patients if I were her in her shoes. It is refreshing to see this kind of care from a young person in the medical field. Her attitude, knowledge, concern and care during times when I felt somewhat “inhuman” was comforting, and I am sure it aided in my recovery. Her attitude and enthusiasm should be spread throughout the institution.

It is clear to my husband and I that any patient who encounters Jill and the attitude and concern she shows will be as blessed as we were to have her by their side.”

Andrew Carnegie once said, “Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”

These two patient letters demonstrate the power of the skilled and compassionate individual who is part of an extraordinary team, completely focused on the patient. I have always believed that caring begins where skill and compassion intersect. These letters are but examples of the tremendous caring and compassion that our physicians, nurses and staff demonstrate to our patients each and every day.

Thank you for all that you do for our patients!   

2 thoughts on “The Fuel That Allows Common People to Attain Uncommon Results

  1. I attended a Radiology CE Meeting once where the Instructor was teaching the subject of “Code of Ethics”. She did an outstanding job! What really got my attention was at the end of her class, she showed a short video clip of a Doctor’s personal experience who had a son with a disabled and grim illness. As she endured the hardships of personal care for her son and being a doctor at the same time, she too as the patient, payed close attention to other health care workers patient care for her son. What it all amounts to is bed side manners. It’s one thing to be great in skill of your profession, but another when you are treated with utmost compassion and respect! These two qualities can make a Health Professional exceed other’s in the field of medicine AND make a great reflection for the employer. Here is the message that got my attention and the end of her video of which I pratice every day.

    Compassionate Care

    “Even the smallest of gestures have in
    them the power to connect us to each
    other, and that connection is what
    makes the unbearable bearable!”

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