Medical tools and training are important, but they’re nothing without empathy

Developing a personal relationship with each patient is critical to successful care. That’s why TapestryHealth assigns its board-certified clinicians to specific facilities, so they get know the staff, the patients, their family members, and just as likely their pets, too. And the depth of the relationships they forge goes way beyond even a traditional doctor/patient relationship. They become family relationships. “Sometimes I’m the only visitor they get. We’re each other’s family now” is how one of our clinicians puts it.

This particular nurse practitioner is well known for her belief that through the relationships she builds, she changes a person’s life every single day. She knows that not just by her faith but by her experience, and one incident in particular shows just how deep these “computer” relationships can go. The clinician had been on an infrequent facility visit to meet the staff and residents in person. While she was there, her own elderly mother passed away. But at this facility, she felt as though she were in the arms of family and the outpouring of condolences, sympathy cards and the like, was deeply touching. How do you respond that kind of support, when your “work life” becomes so intensely personal? Well, this clinician sorted through her mother’s possessions, and selected certain pieces of jewelry that she thought some of the residents would like, and gifted them. “I recall one beaded bracelet in particular. It was my mom’s and I gave it to one of my patients who had sent me a beautiful card. She has worn that bracelet every day since. That simple act made that patient feel special; sharing my grief with her made her feel connected. Things like that let patients know that someone cares about them, that someone is there for them. I didn’t realize at first how much that bracelet meant to her, or that she would never stop wearing it. But in that way, that day, I changed that person’s life. You don’t always know when it happens, but it always happens”.

Changing someone’s life. That’s a pretty high calling.