Wednesday, November 23, 2016

So Much to Be Thankful for...Especially Some Unsung Heroes

We all know that Thanksgiving is a day for reflection of all that we have and cherish. I am a very fortunate man and I have so much to be thankful for starting with my loving family. I am so lucky to be the President of GBMC and I am very grateful to have thousands of phenomenal colleagues who give of themselves every day to help others and especially those who work on Thanksgiving and all the other holidays. I am truly blessed.

This year, I have a special group of dedicated people to be thankful for. Let me tell you a story….

I was the Senior Team member on call for the weekend of November 5th and 6th. Being “on” entails coming in for Lean Daily Management Rounds each day and being available to the administrative coordinator if any issue comes up that they cannot handle on their own. The administrative coordinators are a blessing in themselves; they are so good at what they do that we hardly ever get called. So I was surprised when Michelle Patchett, RN, called me on Sunday evening with a problem.

A man had come to the Emergency Department very sick and he needed to be admitted to the Intensive Care Unit. But the man had a “service dog” who I will call “Fluffy”. The man said that he had no friend or family member who could care for Fluffy. The intensive care unit is not a place for animals so our problem was what to do with Fluffy? This was clearly a “special cause” in quality improvement parlance, because most people with a dog will have a friend or neighbor who will be willing to care for their dog for a day or two but this man did not. GBMC did not have a procedure in place for this situation. Michelle called the Baltimore County Animal Control people but they had no answer for us.

I knew of the Maryland Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MDSPCA), but I had no idea if they would be able to help. We got in touch with the Board President of the MDSPCA, Elizabeth Drigotas who asked us to call their Director of Community Affairs, Katie Flory. While it was clear that they too did not have a process in place specifically for this issue, Katie did not hesitate to offer her help. She essentially dropped what she was doing (at the dinner table with her family on a Sunday evening) and drove to GBMC and picked up Fluffy. Nichole Miller, the MDSPCA Director of Operations, met Katie and Fluffy at the shelter. The MDSPCA treated Fluffy with tender loving care at their shelter for one night until the patient was released from the ICU. Fluffy was then reunited with him the next day on an inpatient unit. But the work of the MDSPCA did not end there! Katie brought food, bowls, treats, blankets, and toys for Fluffy. For the next 9 days, Katie travelled to GBMC and walked Fluffy in the morning and Nichole came and walked him in the afternoon. They were aided by Amy Gonzalez, a GBMC employee, and an MD SPCA volunteer who walked him on the last couple of days. My wife, Tracey, and my daughter, Caroline, walked Fluffy every evening (They love animals and they really loved Fluffy! I see a dog in our future to go with our cats, Bonnie and Clyde).

So I have so much to be thankful for, but this Thanksgiving I am asking you to join me in thanking some “unsung heroes,” Katie, Nichole, Amy, Tracey, Caroline and all of the Team at the MDSPCA, who truly helped us and Fluffy’s owner and who help thousands of animals and people every year. The mission of the MD SPCA is to improve the lives of pets and people in the community by fostering healthy animal-human relationships.  The Maryland SPCA is a private, non-profit, independent organization which operates primarily in the Greater Baltimore Metropolitan area.

My family will be making a donation to the MDSPCA in honor of Katie, Nichole, and Amy. Please consider making a gift as you are able to this wonderful organization. You can do it at Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving to all!


Thank you for taking time to read "A Healthy Dialogue" and for commenting on the blog. Comments are an important part of the public dialogue and help facilitate conversation. All comments are reviewed before posting to ensure posts are not off-topic, do not violate patient confidentiality, and are civil. Differing opinions are welcome as long as the tone is respectful.