Note: This first appeared in the Fall 2008 issue of Focus.
Pauline Nielsen of Northport has been a registered nurse for 57 years - she knows great patient care when she sees it. She was "ecstatic" about the care her husband, Norman, received at Munson Medical Center in late June when he needed an aortic valve replacement.
The Nielsens were so impressed and thankful, they made a donation to the hospital through the new Grateful Patient Program established by the Munson Healthcare Regional Foundation.
"We made a gift in honor of my husband’s cardiologist, Dr. John Raftery, and his surgeon, Dr. Daniel Drake, and asked for it to be used in the Heart Center," Pauline said.
Pauline practiced nursing for 30 years at Leelanau Memorial Health Center in Northport, and has served on the Foundation Board for nine years.
"I’m a real cheerleader for Munson Medical Center and the Foundation," she said. "I feel very, very proud to be part of this System."
Recently, Pauline was a patient in Munson’s Emergency Department and rated her care there as "super." "How can we be so lucky?" she said. "We’ve been to Mayo Clinic in Arizona and Minnesota, and I think Munson deserves the top hospital honors it receives."
Every aspect of service and care was exceptional as her husband underwent and recovered from surgery, Pauline said.
"I was ecstatic about the team nursing I saw - I watched the head nurse helping the floor nurses, they all worked together so well," she said. "Their observation skills were tremendous - they knew what was needed before we even asked."
"The quality of the care I saw and the behavior of the people was fabulous - they were all so very nice."
The Nielsens also were impressed with post-hospital care provided by Munson Home Health and Cardiac Rehabilitation. "The continuity of care was just stupendous," she said. "It all flowed beautifully. It takes the whole team."
"I would encourage anyone to make a donation to Munson to help maintain the excellent standard of care it provides," she said.
Munson Medical Center regularly receives letters from patients and families like the Nielsens who are thankful for the staff’s "genuine kindness," "exemplary professionalism," and "true humanity." They often describe their caregivers as "angels of mercy."
"The new Grateful Patient Program provides people with an opportunity to express their appreciation in a meaningful and lasting way," said Julie Friley, the Foundation’s Annual Giving and Stewardship Coordinator. Patient donations in honor of a caregiver help provide the training, tools, technology, and surroundings staff members need to deliver outstanding, personal care to patients.
Some letters that accompany Grateful Patient donations are especially poignant. One elderly woman wrote, ". . . I’m really down on my finances, but I sure will give to you. I believe in what you are doing, it blesses my heart, and you will be blessed also. When I get something in money for my birthday etc., I will give it to you."
"We don’t want anyone to give money they can’t afford to be without," Friley said. "But the very fact that a person is willing to do so inspires all of us to be even more committed and more compassionate. When our staff hears about these letters, it makes everyone stand a little taller, be a little kinder, and work a little harder."
Grateful Patient brochures can be found in information racks in various locations at Munson Medical Center, as well as Munson Community Health Center, the Biederman Cancer Center, and the Smith Family Breast Health Center. The Grateful Patient Program also is being developed at Paul Oliver Memorial Hospital.