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Healing and Reflection, in just 55 words

Posted by Jeffrey Dodd, Midwest CareCenter RN

Healing and Reflection, in just 55 words
A pathway through Midwest CareCenter's Waud Family Healing Garden.

It all started thanks to the power of suggestion.

Jeffrey Dodd, an RN at Midwest Care Center's Hospice Suite at Northwest Community Hospital, discovered an article in the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine Quarterly, which theorized that 55 word stories could "help clinicians note, reflect, and heal from their daily experiences in caring for seriously ill patients."

So he gave it a go, sending this note to his colleagues via email:

"Fifty-five words? So few. But let's go: Sometimes you drive me crazy but I'm happy to be among you. The friendly smiles and greetings. The dark chocolate. The crazy food rationalizations. The good days. The better days. I try not to dwell on the bad days. Tomorrow's another day. Thanks friends; thanks for coming in."

Inspired, Northwest Community Hospital Nurse and Hospice Suite Supervisor Linda Ranahan followed suit: "I saw the tears your family shed. Your tears. I sensed you were afraid of what was to come. I find solace in working with my fellow peers who share the same vision of caring and compassion. I am in awe of their outreach to you, your family and to each other. You said goodbye. No more tears. We said goodbye. Tomorrow is another day. So glad we will face it together."

And with this, the words began to flow from several more members of the Midwest CareCenter staff. Although some bent the 55-word rule a bit, their brief and thoughtful insights share what it takes to provide the heartfelt care our clinical teams deliver each day. Here's a look:

Allison Hutner, Social Worker
"You are my patient, your spouse's spouse, children's parent, siblings' sibling, friends' friend, clergy's congregant and many other things to many people. Your life is a full-length feature film; your time in my care, a snapshot. I care but must remember – I am only the vehicle through which your idea of care happens now."

Bernadette Abell, Clinical Director, Inpatient Services
Talking to my 93-year-old Aunt.
She states "Let God Thank You today."
The thought is bizarre, original and a little uncomfortable.
I tried it.
I admit, it felt very good.
God really did Thank Me when I listened.
Try it.
Let God thank You today.

Cheryl Goodnight, RN
Sometimes I think that I can't do this another day until I reflect on the patient lying in the bed and I try to put myself in their shoes, and I remember what it was like when my father passed. Often times, I take my day home and find myself praying a lot for the families, friends, staff, and everyone involved in taking care of the whole person and the families. I believe that this is a ministry and I am grateful to be able to find the strength to get up each day and make a difference in what is a natural process of life. Death, in this sense, has been very rewarding and unpredictable but very beautiful. I thank God for the compassionate and capable human beings that touch each and every life that comes through our doors. Many blessings to us all.

Miriam Correa, RN
As I give you report, I hand over my precious charges, and I arm you with the tools and information you will need to continue. You take over for me, and provide care, comfort, relief and vigilance, just as I have done these past eight hours.

I am tired. I am thankful that you will relay on for me in this constant race. I will
return soon, ready to take the baton and continue on for you.

Thank you all for being such faithful and caring runners.

Mary Talbot, CNA
I begin my day asking God for strength before I step off the elevator. Too much going on at times. People passing, crazy luau parties, dogs in the hallways, call buttons going off, final goodbyes, crying. Controlled pandemonium between the actively living and the actively dying. My heart breaks a little as I watch the old man lay his head on his wife's pillow, unable to truly say goodbye. Trying to invisibly maneuver in intimate family space is difficult sometimes. This is sacred space I work in, with good people all around me. Life goes on.

Feeling inspired yourself? Share 55 words on your experience with hospice and palliative care with us.

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