Sunday, April 6, 2008
Thank You Does Matter
I wonder how many people take the time to write a thank you note to their doctor? Or bring them food or something to demonstrate their appreciation to the doctors and their staff? I must confess that until recent years, I did not take the time. Do you? And doctors...do you and your staff take the time to say thank your patients when they do something nice for you?
Sure I would send the occasional Christmas card or bring a box of candy or Christmas cookies to the office, but I didn't take the time to sit down and write a nice thank you letter. Yes...I ALWAYS said thank you... with a smile and then I'd be happily on my way...out of site -out of mind.
I will even go so far as to say that I took my doctors for granted. (couple of exceptions) AND...I worked in a hospital for 20 years (Emergency registration) working closely with the ED staff. I KNEW how much hospital personnel LOVES getting food, thank you notes and letters. I did too and I still have the letters/notes/Press Ganey's (yes I copied them) that patients sent to administration expressing their appreciation. Still...I didn't take the time for my docs.
BTW...I pretty much think the staff has built in homing devices so that no matter where they are in the hospital ...they know there is food sitting in the ED and descend upon it in short order. ;) The same goes for a fresh pot of coffee...but I digress.
While perusing the various med blogs, some med professionals have discussed how much they appreciate it when they receive a thank you letter or food from a patient. There is one post that stands out in my mind. When I read it, I immediately hoped that some of my thank you letters/cards also warmed someone's heart that way.
I wish I could remember which doctor wrote this beautiful post. He wrote about a patient who he had worked with in helping her to overcome an illness and she did. She had moved out of state. She sent him a wonderful thank you card with a note inscribed on it thanking him for all that he had done to facilitate her healing. He was so moved by the card that he said he keeps it in the glove compartment of his car and when he is feeling down... he takes it back out and reads her card again.
I have to say...I was profoundly moved when I read his words. Just look how her card moved him so much, that he wrote about it and that affected me, even though it has been quite awhile since I read it. And who knows how many others reading his blog? Now I am writing about it and all of you are reading about it and some of you may now do something good because of it. The ripple of good goes forward. And it demonstrates how we ALL can make a profound difference in the life of another if we are willing to take the time to do so. I haven't always done it myself...hence the post on Regrets that I wrote a few posts back...but I try.
And speaking of blogging doctors...I came across this post written by Dr Wes (internist, cardiologist, and cardiac electrophysiologist) while perusing the blogosphere tonight. Another great medical blog!
He posted a thank you letter from a patient (with their permission) but went even further with it. Dr Wes went on to say thank you by acknowledging all the other medical people that help make it possible for him to do what he does. I love it! Way to go Dr Wes! :)
There have been other doctors as well as nurses who have expressed their appreciation in the blogosphere regarding the kind gestures from their patients. I remember reading something Dr Schwab from Surgeon'sblog, wrote (forget which post) in which he mentions that he was cleaning some things out and came across the thank yous that he had saved from his patients over the years.
I admit that I didn't send a thank you note to the first urologist who rescued me from the first kidney stone and 2 weeks later the next three. I always meant to but I had a crazy work schedule and a lot going on in my life and one month blended into the next and then I never did.
As a matter of fact...fast forward 2 years and now I was waking up in post-op s/p procedure that was done by a different urologist (my current one) and I vaguely see the 1st urologist walking past my stretcher. Barely able to open my eyes, I called out,"Dr ___...is that y-o-u-u-u?" He stopped and came over to my bedside. "You probably don't remember me, but.." "Yes I do...your the lady from ___ Hospital!" "Yes I am. I just want you to know that I am sorry I never sent you a thank you note after you helped me with that first kidney stone...I'm really sorry." He smiled and said "Oh that's alright." and then walked away. I still feel guilty about that.
I met my current urologist and partners when I ended up at the ED quite ill (I think 16 months after that 1st kidney stone) from a totally constricted ureter. My current urologist worked hard at facilitating my healing and it was a long process because the ureter continually seemed to want to close. I joke that I was stented silly in 2006 and early 2007.
About 6 months into treatment I wrote a nice thank you letter to my doc, his partners and the entire support staff in which I let them know how much I appreciated them and why. I also have brought them a lot of food. Also my way to say thank you. I was very grateful then, still am and always will be. Frankly...I feel like I can never adequately say thank you enough for all that my doctor personally did while working on my case as well as the other docs and their support staff. When appropriate...I tell everyone to go to that group. Their compassionate professionalism made a difficult medical situation more tolerable.
It warmed my heart to see how much they appreciated being appreciated. I also was amazed that they sent thank you cards for my thank you to them. No other medical people have ever done that.
It feels good to do something nice for people and I think all too often we are so caught up in the busyness of our everyday lives, that we just don't stop to think that a kind gesture from us... will mean so much to others. My urodoc thanked me a few times after Christmas for the food I brought them this year and he really warmed my heart doing that because then I knew he and his staff felt appreciated for the hard work they do. Not only did he personally thank me more than once but then after that, they still took the time to send a thank you card from their group/office. :)
Please know that I was/am grateful and wanted to repay them and knowing they appreciated it made me smile and that was enough. But then as it turns out (mentioned this in a previous post) I was feeling down a while after that and it was on THAT day that I received the thank you from them in the mail. A simple little card that they probably sent out to all their thoughtful patients...yet they brought a smile to my face because of their kind gesture. I have a good life - just happened to have been having a bad day...but just imagine how special that gesture would be to a little old lady who is a shut-in.
In my opinion...when someone takes the time to send/give you their thoughts in writing...that is extra special and like the blogging doc...you can read it again when you need to be reminded of something good.
We never really know what heavy load of responsibility or concerns someone may be carrying. We all have those days where we question our choices in whatever capacity or we just feel down because we are oh- so- human.
So write that letter, send that card, bake those cookies and bring them to the special people in your life. Not only will you lift their spirits then, but perhaps as with the blogging doctor... they will reread your encouraging words...reminding them that indeed...they DO make a difference! :)