6 A.M.

A Different Hospital



My dad has been ill for the past three weeks; he is now in a rehabilitation center and on the mend. During this time, I’ve gotten an upfront and personal view of the U.S. healthcare system. I want to call attention to the outstanding work being done by the doctors at the University of Chicago Medical Center. Here are a few observations on the way that U of C plays the game differently:

1)      Accountability—The resident in charge of the patient calls the family member in the morning and the evening to provide an update. This is a substantive discussion of each aspect, from heart rate to oxygen intake to any outstanding issues. Note, that this is a call outward, without prompting, by a doctor. For mid-day updates, nurses provide their station and cell numbers, then have the doctors call back with more detail if need be.

2)      Personal Involvement—The medical staff demonstrates genuine affection for the patients. The words of encouragement and enthusiasm for any forward step are so helpful to family and patient alike.

3)      Willingness to Take Risk—Rather than play defense, with more diagnostic tests and CAT scans, the doctors play offense. They push the patient to get on to the next phase. For them, a day in limbo is a day wasted.

4)      Cooperation Among Specialties—In some hospitals, the surgeons want to cut, the gastrointestinal team has a different view and the cardiology experts go in a completely new direction. At the U of C, the team approach works because the ICU doctor is the quarterback, relying on others for specific knowledge. This is vital because U of C wants the most complex, multi-variable cases.

5)      Reliance on Data—Nurses are constantly inputting new findings so that the doctors making rounds are completely up to date on patient progress. Doctors get the best information in order to make the proper judgment.

6)      Mentor Students—Doctors’ rounds in the morning are inspirational. Each of the residents reports on the patients under his or her control. The rest of the group of ten making the rounds has comments. Then, the senior doctor concludes with a recommendation on care for the day. There is a clear enthusiasm for learning.

7)      Integrating Old and New—The physical therapy team refuses to let the patient sit and stew. There is arm and leg movement. There is continuous conversation about time, date and place to shake off sundown syndrome. There is even gentle massage and pounding of the back.

I want to thank Drs. Kress, Noth, Nareng, Melotek and all of the nurses at the U of C. I’d also like to give special thanks to Dean Ken Polonsky, who has put enormous focus on improving the quality of the patient experience. You are all definitely on the right path for patient cure.

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