Acts of Selflessness

By Jennifer Siragusa, Director of Patient Services, Bertrand Chaffee Hospital

I’m sure you’ve heard the old adage “seeing is believing.” This saying could not be more relevant now, especially in the healthcare field or, for that matter, any service-related industry.

As you walk in to a crowded hospital waiting room in your local community, you may be alarmed at first by the sheer volume of people waiting for care, perhaps you may feel disgruntled by the time you are waiting to be seen by a provider.

What you don’t see beyond the busy waiting area is what is happening behind the waiting room door.

What you don’t see is the unresponsive baby who had been rushed in by ambulance who is requiring the attention and care from half of the Emergency Department staff or the teenage boy involved in a skiing accident who arrived hours after you did who will lose his leg if he isn’t treated immediately.

What you don’t see while you waited 20 minutes for pain medication or 10 minutes for assistance to use the bathroom is the nurse performing chest compressions on the mother of three young children so that she might have a chance to see her children grow up.

Our doctors and nurses perform these actions every day, most of which go unseen or untold. They are entrusted to save lives, to provide outstanding care, and to deliver that care with compassion and kindness.

What we as patients and community members don’t necessarily see or feel is that the figurative rubber band of healthcare has snapped – the people we depend upon to perform these extraordinary acts of selflessness have been stretched to their breaking point. Despite clocking longer hours and fielding complaints of circumstances beyond their control, they weather this unparalleled environment with poise and pride. They are working harder than ever with less resources than ever, yet they continually show up so they can respectfully care for your loved ones and neighbors with dignity.

Please, the next time you are at your local healthcare facility, even your local grocery store, restaurant, or gas station, consider your interactions with the people you are depending upon to care for you, to serve you. You may not be seeing the full picture of what is going on in their workday, what is going on “behind the scenes”.

Your patience and understanding goes a long way with the staff who are working selflessly and tirelessly to make sure your small community hospital can care for your emergent needs.