Robert Brougher, RN, is a house manager at Ascension Via Christi St. Joseph. He shared this story in honor of Nurses Week (May 6 to 12) and Healthcare Team Week (May 8 to 14).
As a house manager, I routinely see the wonderful care Via Christi provides through the eyes of a member of the nursing team.
But it wasn’t until recently that I truly understood what that care meant as a patient’s family member.
The experience was so extraordinary I wanted to find a way to describe it to other associates, both to thank our caregivers and as a way to encourage you to reflect on how meaningful the work you do every day truly is.
I have been the primary caregiver for my mother for seven years. She is 81 and has struggled through a journey with cancer and dementia.
On one recent evening, she fell at home. An ambulance took her to Ascension Via Christi St. Joseph, where she was treated in the emergency room. Providers there determined she had broken bones in her back, and she needed to be transferred to the Surgical Intensive Care Unit at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis.
It was clear to me from our first encounters at the ER to discharge from St. Francis, five days later, that my mother couldn’t get any better care in the United States. Everybody was so incredibly good at their job. They were kind and compassionate. And that kindness flowed through everyone — from the doctors and nurses who cared for her, to the associates who registered her, stocked the rooms and emptied the trash.
A few details stuck out:
- On the first night, her neurosurgeon, Raymond Grundmeyer, sat with me late that night to explain my mother’s situation. It wasn’t even anything he said, but the look in his eyes just made me calm and helped me understand the situation. It was almost Christ-like, the compassion he showed to me.
- Everyone was so incredibly gentle with my mother, asking me questions and responding to the smallest details. They even remembered the little things, like the fact that she prefers to drink tonic water instead of tap water.
- With the nurses, we never had to ask for anything. They didn’t miss a beat.
Their humanity inspired me as a person and as a nurse. They made me want to be better at my job. They made me want to reach out even more to patients to see how we can be helping them and making their stays a little easier.
I’ve been able to reflect on what this experience has meant to me. But I’m not sure that we, as members of the care team, take enough time to step back and realize the difference we make. You can have the most technologically sophisticated place to work, but it must be partnered with highly skilled and empathetic staff and practitioners.
I don’t think my colleagues know just how good they truly are.
But I do.
My mother’s recent experience made me feel proud of them, proud to be a nurse and proud to serve at Via Christi.