The Barometer of Medical Care
Submitted by Peninsula neighbor, David Goodman
“The calling to pay forward the good fortune I received when my life was saved was an epiphany to lead by example. It became abundantly clear to me that my characterization of giving back is blending intellectual, emotional, spiritual components and frequently financial support.”
During a black-tie gala in 2014, David Goodman began to feel serious discomfort in his chest, abdomen and back. While setting up his camera gear to take pictures and make sure about the testimonial speech he was to give, the pain didn’t worsen but never went away. “Thinking the uneasiness was something minor, I ate dinner and delivered the testimonial.” Contemplating a trip to the ER, David and wife, Barbara, soon thereafter decided to head home and to add comic relief to the scary moment, Barbara said “if we need to go to the ER, I’d like to change out of these high heels – my feet are killing me”. This is the start to a journey – of multiple ambulance trips, numerous days in surgery after being diagnosed with a full length aortic dissection, and the raw emotions of a healing process – that makes listening to the Goodman’s experience with Novant Health, and their drive to give back, like turning the pages of a dramatic story with a happy ending.
In David’s own words:
Several decades ago, my father-in-law offered me advice, which is even greater today. He said “Try to leave where you’ve been in better shape than when you came. And that includes enjoying your life because so far, I’ve never met anyone who got out of life alive”.
In the aftermath of my experience, I grew to believe my surviving the multiple, complex and not without significant risk surgeries propelled me to lead by example. One of the components of my pay forward by example commitment is our establishment of a legacy plan which will allow those programs I/we support to continue in perpetuity. This is what I call my invisible thread to the organizations and people that mean the most to me/us. Hard for anyone to see or understand my connection but the strength can easily be felt. I have addressed many groups since beginning this new journey, spreading the word of leading by example and the importance of leaving this world in better condition than when we arrived. Helping set an example of helping each other. I have spoken at group gatherings of The Jewish Family Services of Greater Charlotte, The Foundation for The Carolinas, The Foundation for The Charlotte Jewish Community, Philadelphia University Alumni Association of NC, Novant Health Huntersville Medical Center’s Advisory Council, The Kent Cook Institute and served as Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center Foundation’s 2016 National Doctors Day Representative.
Greatness is born from consistency. In doing what others aren’t willing to do. In being able to persevere and deliver time and time again. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. You must be patient, and fall in love with the process if you are going to benefit. I consider myself the most fortunate person I’ve met.
My “Novant Experience” was my awakening of my pay forward commitment and today proudly includes being a Trustee at The Blumenthal Performing Arts Center where Barbara and I sponsor The Junior Ambassadors Program, and being one of the creators of an endowment honoring the lifetime commitment of Linda Beck who passed away last year. I am a board member of The Kent Cook Institute, a Davidson-based metaphysical learning center. At The Peninsula Yacht Club, I serve as the Fleet Committee’s Boating Education Chair. In lieu of seeking attendance at boating education seminars, I crafted two comprehensive Boating Information Guides (190 and 300 pages) and 2 children’s Boating Safety Books, which were provided to members at no cost.
The bold statistic is that 20% of patients with aortic dissection die before reaching the hospital, overall 50% survive. I am fortunately in the very unpopulated group of those who came through without any complications, encumbrances, permanent damage or restrictions. This medical miracle group is miniscule.
Until I learned the harsh reality of the risk of my condition, and that my subscription to life might be cancelled, I had a very simple definition of quality medical care. If I had an earache, and the doctor prescribed an effective remedy, he was a good doctor. Similarly, if he discovered I had a condition I was unaware of, he was a scholarly diagnostician.
It became abundantly clear-cut that my life had be re-gifted and we needed to acknowledge those who gave of themselves for my benefit. Someone gave something to the Novant Health organization, to Dr. Robert Allen, to the entire staff, to make it possible for me to be here today. Now it is my and Barbara’s turn. Barbara and I first arranged for Dr. Allen to be knighted by Novant as a Guardian Angel and later the same for the ER attending physician at Novant Huntersville and critical care ambulance crew who, with the fate of my life at great risk, transported me to Novant Presbyterian. We hope we have set an example for others to fashion personal forms of recognition for those who aid their survival.
My survival was largely but not solely dependent on quality and dedicated medical care. I sincerely believe many invisible and indescribable healing forces were gifted to me. My wife, my family, my friends. All threaded together, invisibly, unselfishly for me.
My condition also motivated me to document my feelings on what should be used as the barometer of medical care quality. Holding true to my constitution of leading by example, I developed a compilation of health care reality check questions I share with practitioners, hospitals, staff members, support staff, etc. to ask themselves. Below are just a few of the bullet points.
Do your patients…
- Categorize you as good at what you do? Going one step further, do you feel they categorize you as a great human being?
- More than good, do they consider you to be a remarkable listener? More than being just professionals, do they value the fact that your staff’s attitude is exceptional?
- Hospitalization is scary and traumatizing. Do you make it friendly and pleasing? Is your analysis and diagnosis the most effective it can be? Do you value the practice of medicine is a team not individual effort?
- Do you understand, and can you convey the difference between fact and faith? Fact is reporting/discussing the illness diagnoses and treatment regimen. Faith is providing their patients the strength to recover.
- Are you heartfelt? ‘Heartfulness’ spend time to look beyond the medical reports and understand the suffering and pain that patients are going through. Are you a ‘heartfelt’?
- Medical care requires being more than a doctor, nurse, associate, intern, etc. You need to be a therapist, supporter, friend, well-wisher and angel in disguise. You need to install confidence. Are you? Do you?
- Every health care entity and person helps the quality of life for patients every day. But does your team offer as if every patient was the most important person on earth?
- Medicines can cure, but talented and inspirational words can give the strength to fight from within. Do you do just that?
- The strongest prescription is a provider’s positive attitude. Do you take time to share that prescription?
- A patient’s testimonial is less of a recognition of professional expertise, and more of a recommendation of the ability to listen, care and heal. Do your patients vouch for the fact that your abilities are unmatched.
- Do you replace the Fear of Illness with Trust in Recovery?
- Do you take a moment to conclude your visit with a patient with “thank you for allowing us to take care of you”?
- Similarly, do your patients thank you for taking care of them? If works both ways.
On my hospital discharge day, Barbara & I took time to individually thank those who were a factor to the success of my hospital stay. I was so touched when most of them acknowledged me but also stated” but this is what we do!” That stuck with me. So, to all at Novant who provided me with the quality of care that would forever become etched in my heart, when asked why I chose to repay that goodness to the group of ‘heartfelters’, I say “this is what I do”.
If you’d like to submit a Grateful Patient story, click here.