“My wife, Kathleen, was a patient of your hospital for the last 33 months as she battled pancreatic cancer. From our very first day arriving at BIDMC in November 2010 with Kathy and our children to meet Dr. Mark Callery and discuss her Whipple surgery, until she was finally transported to a local hospice house on July 18, 2013, the care that Kathy and I received from each and every one of your employees was phenomenal.
Kathy endured Whipple surgery, radiation, several different chemotherapy regimens, a clinical trial, multiple ICU stays and a few extended hospital stays. Although it would be impossible to capture in this letter all of the people and all of the moments that helped to make these experiences bearable, I can attest to the fact that your campaign of treating patients as “Human First” is a living and breathing part of your organization. Each and every time we were in your hospital, we were treated with respect, dignity, compassion and kindness. We built warm relationships with many of Kathy’s caregivers and even those that we saw only a few times were always friendly, knowledgeable and respectful.
We could not have asked for a better caregiving experience for Kathy and myself than that which we received at BIDMC. I would like to specifically thank Chiara Battelli, MD; Michael A. Goldstein, MD; Anand Mahadevan, MD; Mark P. Callery, MD; Charles I. Haffajee, MD; Andrea J. Bullock, MD; Jason P. Moran, MD; Paddy Connelly, BSN; Chantal Paul, RN and Miriam Lucas. Each of these people was directly involved with Kathy’s care in a significant way and treated her and my entire family with a tremendous amount of compassion and respect. Kathy thought very highly of each of these individuals and trusted her care to them. She prayed for each of them every night and we all appreciate their efforts and their expertise.
I would also like to express my thanks for the caregivers, attending physicians, residents, interns, nurses, aides, medical transporters and cleaning staff in the Hematology and Oncology Clinic on Shapiro 9, the 11th floor of Reisman and the Finard 4 ICU. Kathy spent a great deal of time with these people and they never failed to provide great care, a friendly touch and a kind, personal interaction. When you are facing all that Kathy had to deal with for the last 33 months, being treated with kindness and compassion was nearly as important as being treated with expert medicine. All of these people consistently smiled, cleaned the floors, answered medical questions, ordered tests and medicine, wheeled her to tests and procedures, brought pillows and ice chips and even helped make difficult decisions. They laughed at Kathy’s jokes, indulged her requests for prayers and always made her feel like they were on her side and understood her concerns.
Your hospital is quite a team. You should be very proud of the care they give and the manner in which it is given. One of my favorite experiences with your team was when the woman at the information desk, who greeted me warmly day in and day out during Kathy’s hospital stays, brought me a cup of coffee and a warm smile when she saw me looking low.
Even though your hospital is large, highly ranked and world-renowned, it was just as important to Kathy and me that the care was also personal, warm and compassionate. Thank you very much to you and all of your staff.”
"When Arnold P. Gold, MD, a pediatric neurologist at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, established the Arnold P. Gold Foundation with his wife and colleagues in 1988, he had one goal in mind: to ensure the survival of 'the caring physician.'
From there, the Gold Humanism Honor Society was formed. This society became well-established at medical schools across the country as educators and residency program directors expressed the need for a mechanism to identify applicants with outstanding clinical and interpersonal skills.
I’m proud that this year, BIDMC was one of 10 medical centers and the only hospital in Massachusetts chosen to pilot a resident chapter of the society. Twenty-three resident physicians (physicians in training) were inducted at a ceremony on June 12.
Members inducted into this society were first nominated by their peers. We asked the residents a few key questions including ‘who would you want to have as your own doctor?’ From there, nominees were asked to submit a brief essay about their vision of what they might aim to accomplish if inducted.
The 23 residents inducted into BIDMC’s Gold Humanism Honor Society Chapter have proven their abilities as humanistic physicians. The attributes outlined by the society include integrity, excellence, compassion, altruism, respect, empathy and service. It truly exemplifies BIDMC’s Human First campaign. Physicians can be incredibly smart and gifted, but if they don’t have human compassion, they have failed their patients.
Carrie Tibbles, MD
BIDMC Emergency Medicine Physician
"I want to thank my incredible surgeon for all that she did to help me with my debilitating disease and for her incredible skill as a doctor and surgeon in taking care of me and returning me once again to good health. I was so incredibly sick for much of the last year, and always thought that I would be able to tough it out and 'beat this' on my own. That proved to not be the case and I have to credit her for saving me from this awful affliction of diverticulitis.
Because this was elective surgery on my part, I took the time to do some research and felt she and BIDMC was the best choice for me and I’m certainly glad that I chose wisely. For someone who has NEVER been hospitalized in his entire life, it was daunting to say the least. But everyone, from the residents to the nurses to the aids, were all outstanding and made this traumatic experience more than tolerable for me. I am deeply grateful for the outstanding care I received, and was especially relieved that I came through it all with no post-op secondary infections, nor any blood clots (I do have two genetic blood clotting disorders — Factor Five Leiden & Anti-Thrombin 3) ... and I was worried I may end up with a clot, but am very happy that didn’t happen.
The care I received was top rate and I expressed such on the questionnaire/survey that BIDMC sent to me. But more than anything else, I’m glad that BIDMC was able to get me into surgery so quickly, and then given just how bad the state of my sigmoid colon was, getting me out in a timely manner and only having to live with the ostomy for about four weeks ... not bad at all, thank you!
Thank you very much once again for all that you did. My job is a television cameraman, and I also teach boxing classes at a bunch of local gyms. It is VERY physical, and although I'm not back to doing it 100 percent, I know that I am on my way, due in large part to the expertise and great care I received at BIDMC. I am very grateful ... I was very sick indeed and needed this surgery. I am forever in your debt."
“My life turned around and improved when my newest neurology doctor said, 'the first thing we are going to do is get rid of the pain.' I wanted to kiss her. It had been three long years of different tests, different doctors and many disappointments. It was simple to me; I just wanted to know what was wrong with me. Why was I losing feeling in my legs and now my arms? How come I didn’t feel hot and cold like everyone else? Why couldn’t I walk without being in pain? Why was I walking like an 80-year-old woman when I was only 46?
With that one sentence, I knew I had found a provider who believed me, who didn’t try to fluff off my concerns and tell me that it was all in my head, or my favorite, the doctor who told me, 'you seem to be handling this pretty well,' as I stood in his examining room crying hysterically.
From that point on I knew I had a doctor I could trust, one who treated me as a person first. I could stop carrying my entire medical record with me whenever I went to a new doctor, to show which tests I had and which procedures. A doctor who listened to my concerns and let me be a part of my own treatment plan. A doctor who acknowledged my intelligence as a professional woman who could handle and understand the complex world that is Idiopathic sensory peripheral neuropathy.
We discussed the additional tests she wanted me to have and I trusted her. She prescribed Lyrica to manage the pain until the tests were completed. Then we would meet again and figure out a longer term game plan. She believed me.
When we met again about a month later, she told me that I had a very rare form of neuropathy. My form was sensory peripheral neuropathy. According to my doctor, less than two percent of the population has this form. Of course. What causes this? We don’t know in your case. Of course again.
But they were able to come up with a treatment plan for me. They were proposing a new type of medicine for me, somewhat exploratory called IVIg. I was worried that my medical insurance wouldn’t cover this treatment. My doctor said, 'You let ME worry about that, YOU concentrate on your recovery.'
Again, I was able to let go a little more, allow someone else to be my advocate, which was hard because I was my only advocate up to that point.
I had to take a leave of absence from my job as a systems analyst. My first five-day IVIg treatment was just about two years ago. I now go monthly for a five hour treatment once a month for what I call my 'oil changes.' The effect has been profound. I was able to go back to work, be present in my family life, and now, for the first time in two years, able to start walking on a treadmill for an hour three times a week.
The pain is still there, but it is manageable. I’ve begun to live in my 'new normal.' That’s okay. I’m better off than I was before and I’ll take that. My doctor looked at me as a human being suffering and with that one sentence, my life turned around and improved.”
To everyone at Beth Israel:
If you could pass this along to the appropriate people and
departments, we would appreciate it!
My wife, Kate and I would like to thank you for the tremendous work
you did for us in order to bring our son, Jude, into this world. It's
been 4 months since Jude was born (please forgive this being late, we
have been a little busy :) ) - but we still are amazed and grateful
for all that you did.
My wife was the one who had Listeria while pregnant, and I am
convinced that if it wasn't for the thoroughness and attentiveness of
your staff, we wouldn't have been lucky enough to catch and treat the
infection before it affected Jude. From the beginning, people showed
their care for Kate and Jude as individual people. There were doctors
who insisted she stay, just because they knew something was wrong.
There was the doctor on the Infectious disease team who just didn't
think the symptoms matched the current diagnosis and checked for
listeria. There was the NICU team that cared for Jude (and for us)
from the moment he was born and made sure that when he came home, all
we had to worry about was the usual first time parent worries. There
was the OB team that walked us through every step and put our wishes
first, yet also guided us through the onslaught of medical decisions
we needed to make. Finally - the nurses - They were n the OB triage
unit and calmed our initial fears, they were on the ante partum floor
- who were there to keep us comfortable before labor, and who we went
back to and showed us how to be parents. They were in Labor and
Delivery and were literally the shoulder my wife leaned on when
getting ready to deliver Jude 3 weeks early - they were also our guide
and moral support. Finally, the nurses in the NICU who cared for Jude
like he was their own. While we didn't like having to leave him, the
only thing that made it bearable was the fact that such caring and
competent nurses were there to care for him.
For all of this, we want to thank you for allowing us to be the family
that we are today. While the medical care we received was world
class, the personal attention and care for us as individuals was above
and beyond what we expected, yet was needed to help us cope with those
A little update on Jude - he is now 4 months old and is 15lbs 9oz!!
He is doing very well (I have attached some pictures)
Here he was in the NICU
“When I was suffering from a painful herniated disc in my back, my doctor at BIDMC went to bat for me, personally calling my PCP and health insurance company to get my MRI approved quickly. He didn't just see me as a name or a number, he saw me as a person in pain … and he helped me to feel SO MUCH BETTER.”
Disclaimer: By sending us your story and/or photo, you are allowing Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center to post these items in public arenas, such as our website or social media pages (Facebook and Twitter). Please only send your story/photos if you want them shared publicly.