Those are the terms which kept crossing my mind today during the 120 minutes I spent in St. Raphael Hospital, New Haven, Connecticut. That hospital, I concluded, should be the model for healthcare branding. From the get-go, when I arrived in Radiology for a biopsy, every aspect of the patient experience delivers the message: We care.
Every so often the desk clerk checks if anyone has been waiting more than a half hour. The technician who had done the original ultrasounds comes over and chats with me, even though she's not involved in this procedure.
A team of a technologist, registered nurse, resident doctor and the expert doctor then take over. If I had been a nervous wreck - for once narcissist me was too undone to even check how and what I was feeling - that has passed. Together the four transformed a medical procedure into a very human experience. They patiently educated, reading between the lines as to what my questions were really about. They talked with me as a peer. They made enough light bodily contact to establish connection. The expert doctor even made herself late to a seminar she was giving when I blurted out last minute concerns. She told the resident to tell the class to wait. And I'm not Hillary Clinton or Jennifer Lopez. That kind of deference for the patient is the platform for healthcare branding.
All this is light years away from what much of healthcare had been when I started out in writing. An early set of articles was on how cancer patients were Making Today Count. A leader in the movement had been the late Lois Jaffe, a University of Pittsburgh professor in the School of Social Work. After she was diagnosed with cancer, she made it her mission to force the medical system to recognize her humanity. And, obviously, she succeeded. I guess I have Jaffe to thank for today's Handle-with-Caring.