A doctor’s diary from a pandemic: Giving thanks

At my hospital and clinic system, Hennepin Healthcare, we have a method of communication called the Tiered Huddle system. It’s an innovative and really effective way for communication between people in the organization so that problems can be addressed in real time. These huddles happen every day in small work groups and at senior leadership. One feature, every day, is the “kudo” section in which anybody can recognize the contributions of another. It is a way to give thanks.

In the course of my day I see so many people doing so many things to be thankful for so I’d thought I would do a blog-based kudo session. Here are a few of my colleagues who give me great optimism, even though my hair looks like that picture above!

Nurses

I have often said and I truly believe that nurses are the heart of everything we do. So recently I asked one of our hospital nurses how she was doing. She was covered in PPE (scrubs, gown, face mask, plastic face shield, hair cap). You could barely identify who it was with only her eyes showing. In response, she went on to gesture with her hands at the other nurses around the unit. She said with such a great group of nursing colleagues, she was doing “great!” To nurses: thank you for showing that even in the scariest times, a team of supportive colleagues and a positive outlook makes all the difference.

Food service workers

The cafeteria at Hennepin Healthcare is the liveliest place in the hospital. You can always count on the good nature of the staff there. Often you’ll see people singing along to the music that is always playing prominently on the speakers. And the chefs routinely serve up food that is worthy of a great restaurant. But during COVID, things are a bit more limited, for obvious reasons. But our cafeteria staff still manage to provide food options for us in a safe manner (I do miss the salad bar and Chef Donald fixing me up a plate of cajun shrimp!). They still have the music playing and still come to work with their cheerful faces. Only now those faces are wearing masks. To our food service workers: thank you for providing one place in the hospital still available to healthcare workers that is free of worry and full of joy.

Chaplains, social workers and those who comfort

This is a frightening time for many. Not only for healthcare workers but for patients. It is a sad reality that all hospitals need to limit visitors to the hospital during this pandemic. We have done so as well and it is one of the issues we have struggled with the most.

How do you care for a dying person when their family members can’t be at the bedside? And how do you care for those family members? And how do you care for healthcare workers who themselves are frightened and exhausted?

At our hospital, I have seen our group of spiritual leaders and social workers and palliative care workers and patient representatives and ethics professionals all step up with guidance, support, resources to help, and a loving presence. Our chaplains routinely use technology to help families be with their loved ones, at least as best they can when they can’t be physically present. They put on weekly virtual seminars in which healthcare workers can hear the stories of their colleagues, voice their own emotions, and support one another. I’m really proud to work at a place that focuses on “Trauma Informed Care” and to the idea that we are never alone. To our chaplains and others who support patients and families and staff: thank you.

I’ll do more thank you comments in future posts. Lots of people to thank . . . security officers, interpreters, environmental service workers . . . the list goes on.

Hope you are all well! Subscribe to this blog by e-mail if you wish, and follow me on Twitter @DrDavidHilden.

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