The healing touch

Published 1:24 pm Tuesday, March 28, 2023

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A woman I had just met told me: “We must hold care in just as high regard as the cure.” I found her message simple but profoundly accurate. 


In healthcare, we’re always seeking the cure. Although we’re successful most of the time, there are times when we can do little to cure the health issue. Regardless of the outcome though, “caring” always wins. Showing humanity, humility, and compassion as we do our daily tasks is critical to our mission. 

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A patient in our medical unit recently asked to speak with me. In a small community where everyone knows everyone, it’s not unusual for patients to know me by name. So, another hospital leader and I visited the man, but he asked us to return when his sons came to visit, as he wanted them to be part of our conversation. So, we returned later that day to meet his adult sons. The men were tall, friendly, and strong, with firm handshakes. Our patient thanked us for his outstanding care at St. Luke’s.


He shared that our team routinely went above and beyond expectations during his stay in caring for him, from making him nighttime peanut butter crackers to sitting and chatting for a few minutes to keep him from feeling alone. The man said our team did much more than routine tasks, but they “CARED” for him. 


Then he began to weep. 


The gentleman shared that his wife had previously been a patient with us but unfortunately passed away. He shared how much it meant to him that our team bent over backward to provide dignity and privacy as she breathed her last breath. This family had experienced a very sad event, but our care still mattered.


As the gentleman spoke, he mentioned many incidents and departments impacting his family. And when he talked of the care received, tears also rolled down the faces of his two sons. He continued that no one at St. Luke’s was punching a clock but truly fulfilling a calling to care for our patients and their loved ones. The gentleman mentioned Tera O’Dell numerous times. She organized his discharge and assured him that he could go home safely. The three men recounted multiple times Tera had gone the extra mile, touching the entire family with her kindness. 


Tera recently earned our teammate of the month award, and you can see why. Extraordinary behavior is ordinary to her. You see, for Tera, no one is a number but people who need care and compassion to recover. All three men reinforced how thankful they were for our local hospital. And they thanked us for doing our part to ensure it survives. It was a humbling and inspiring moment. 


Our small, rural hospital team came through in a big way when this family needed us. And Tera, our team, and I will give our all to ensure we’ll care for them if they ever need us again. So, at a time when negative healthcare stories make headlines, I thought this inspiring story about people in your own community hospital might be just what the doctor ordered. 


If you have a healthcare topic of interest or want to learn more about St. Luke’s Hospital, send me a note at