The term "community hospital" is a familiar one. So familiar it may not be given much thought when it is used.
The key word in Jersey Community Hospital is the COMMUNITY. To me, it reflects the importance of how we conduct ourselves as opposed to a focus on merely where we work or what we do.
In fact, I often say how we do things is more important that what we actually do.
You may be thinking that doesn’t make sense. You probably think I would surely eat my words if there was a bad outcome in the hospital, and I would change my focus to what we did pretty quick if a patient actually died.
Not necessarily. I’m happy to share one such story of a bad outcome.
This month in our hospital an elderly patient was admitted. Her name was Ms. Johnson; and she was dying.
We didn’t know this would be the outcome when she was admitted, but after the first few days the physicians and staff realized what was happening and transitioned her care to be more palliative than interventional.
Unfortunately, Ms. Johnson didn’t have any family. She did, however, have a “community”. It was a remarkable thing to see our community hospital wrap their arms around Ms. Johnson and become her proxy family in her final 8 days.
I first heard about this patient and how we were reacting to her from Julie Smith, our CNO. She told me of the nurses and aids that held her hand and prayed with her. The “care plan” was to make sure Ms. Johnson died with dignity, and had someone with her all the time.
Next, I heard about Julie Jackson, the nurse practitioner on the hospitalist team, that connected with her on a real and personal level. Julie walked with her every step of her final journey. Julie saw her change from a patient that was unsure of her condition and what was next…seeking advice and reassurance from her doctor; to a person with confidence in her future, her faith, and with the strength to console and advise her care providers.
I heard about Cookie Brown, the nurse aid that laid in bed with her as she was in and out of consciousness so she would know she wasn’t alone.
I heard about Stacey Brannan, the RN that sat with her for hours to hold her hand.
Several staff were present when Ms. Johnson passed away. Her last words to the staff were “God bless you for the way you took care of me. Remember to take care of each other after I’m gone.”
Loving our patients is not something we teach. It is something we are honored to witness when it happens.
Thank you to the staff at Jersey Community Hospital for being a great example of the value of a community hospital. A special thank you to Julie Jackson, Stacey Brannan, Stacy Eilerman, and Cookie Brown for inspiring all of us that witnessed this small miracle of love and community.