‘My Story:’ Simple Process Makes Huge Impact Connecting Patients and Caregivers
Paper, pen and pictures tell patients’ stories when they cannot
(Fort Myers, Fla. – May 22, 2017) --- When Wally Kazich’s wife, Jeanette, was hospitalized in the Gulf Coast Medical Center Intensive Care Unit (ICU), and unable to speak to her caregivers, Kazich didn’t just want the staff to read anecdotes about her; he wanted them to see her as a loving wife, mother and grandmother. So, Kazich filled the walls of his wife’s room with pictures.
Lee Health caregivers are always looking for creative ways to connect with patients. Many times, patients share their stories—their personal interests, ambitions, achievements—with their caregivers. Sometimes however, especially in the ICUs where patients may not be awake or able to communicate, it is difficult to gain the same insights or make the same connections. The Gulf Coast Medical Center ICU Team developed “My Story” to allow family members to share information about their loved ones to help staff better know and understand each individual in their care.
Though it’s a simple process, the impact of My Story has been powerful. My Story involves the use of paper and pen to introduce the patient to the care team. Large sheets of paper are hung in the patient’s room and family members are encouraged to share as much or as little as they want about their loved one. They can highlight their likes and dislikes, accomplishments, hobbies and personality traits.
When Wally learned about My Story from Lucy Davis, patient care liaison, he began what eventually became a ‘gallery’ of Jeanette’s life, inside her hospital room. “Our home is filled with family pictures,” Kazich says. “I wanted to give Jeanette’s room a homier feel. I stuck 75 pictures on the walls—pictures from baseball games, trips to the zoo, parties, Easter egg hunts. The nurses, doctors, everyone who came in the room looked at the pictures and asked about Jeanette, our children and grandchildren. I’d never done that before, but it totally changed the atmosphere of the room and the connection with the staff.”
Through My Story, staff learned about the musical abilities of another patient who played the drums and banjo. Another patient’s family shared that their loved one liked to fish with his grandchildren and had been married for 60 years.
Davis says My Story is a powerful tool and healing mechanism. “My Story highlights the real person in the bed—not simply the medical issue that brought them to the hospital,” she says. “It enhances the empathy the team feels because they better understand who it is they are caring for, and what that person means to the people in their life.”
While the ICU is a wonderful place for this initiative, it is valuable in many areas of the hospital. The ICU team has shared the initiative at internal meetings, and other units throughout Lee Health are considering implementing the program as well.
About Lee Health
Since the opening of the first hospital in 1916, Lee Health has been a health care leader in Southwest Florida, constantly evolving to meet the needs of the community. A non-profit, integrated health care services organization, Lee Health is committed to the well-being of every individual served, focused on healthy living and maintaining good health. Staffed by caring people, inspiring health, services are conveniently located throughout the community in four acute care hospitals, two specialty hospitals, outpatient centers, walk-in medical centers, primary care and specialty physician practices and other services across the continuum of care. Learn more at www.LeeHealth.org
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