There are many prominent figures in the health care industry. Doctors, nurses, surgeons, physical therapists, etc. They may be what makes the world of health care go round, but who also helps to keep the ball rolling? If you have ever had a hospital stay, briefly or otherwise, you know you don’t just go on in, see the doctor, and go along your merry little way. If you have an elder or disabled family member in a nursing home that you visit, you see their day doesn’t just consist of taking their medication and watching TV. There are many people in today’s health care industry, aside from doctors and nurses, who lend a hand in caring for us and our loved ones.
Last week I was in a local hospital having my appendix removed. It was painful and uncomfortable, scary, and just a little bit lonely at night and early morning when my family wasn’t around me. I was only in the hospital for 3 days, but during that time, in those early mornings when I first woke up, I got to talk to a woman name, Sarah. She was from housekeeping. Sarah’s job was to bring in the daily newspaper and clean up my room. There are many “Sarah’s” out there in the world, but what made her special is that even though she probably sees thousands of patients come and go while she works, she made me feel as if I wasn’t just another face. She would ask how I was doing that day, ask me if I needed anything, let me know what the headlining articles in the daily paper were, and just kind of let me know that she was there for me – something that I would never expect from “housekeeping” at my local hospital. Whether this woman knew it or not, she made my short stay at the hospital just a little bit easier.
How many more “Sarah’s” are out there? People who take time out of their day, whether it is their job or not, to make sure a patient was doing okay and has everything they need at that time? A majority of nursing homes or long stay facilities have activities boards for their patients. Activities can range from doing a daily craft to in house church services on Sunday mornings. While my father was in a skilled nursing facility, he was never one to leave his room much. We tried to make sure he had everything he would want and need in his room, but when we weren’t there, we couldn’t always make sure he had company – someone other than us that would come in and talk to my father when we couldn’t be there. This was something I expressed to the social worker and she talked to the activities board. The next thing I knew, they had decided that, if it was okay with my father, one of the employees who worked on the activities committee, would go up to my father’s room every morning and read him the paper. Her name was Robin and over the next two years, I think she looked forward to those morning visits just as much as my father did. It was an hour out of the day, but that one hour was something that not only gave me peace of mind, but also gave my father something to look forward to.
There are so many people behind the scenes in the health care industry that we don’t see – or maybe we do see them, but we don’t realize how pivotal a role their small part plays. Sarah was a breath of fresh air every morning in a stale, cold hospital. Robin brought a bit of light to a dark place in my father’s life. And there are many more of them out there. Doctors and nurses may be out there getting their hands dirty, saving our lives in the technical sense, but it’s the Sarah’s and the Robin’s that keep our spirits high and our hearts full as we go through these difficult times in our lives.