I always learn a great deal when I have an opportunity to go out on a home visit “Ride Along” with staff. Recently, I had a chance to visit three patients with Christine Ogden, RN, from the Sachem team. Though I had met Christine at one of our recent town meetings, I did not know her very well and so an important part of the experience for me relates to seeing our organization through the eyes of one of our clinicians. Christine was most accommodating to me, particularly regarding what is starting to become somewhat of a tradition here when I go out with staff. Yes, I’m talking about the selfie photo.
As I stated when I wrote about my last Ride Along, so much of my time is spent in conference rooms, looking at dashboard reports, speaking with executives and clinicians from our referring hospitals and presenting information about Partners HealthCare at Home at various meetings throughout the Partners system. Going out into patients’ homes not only gives me a clearer sense of our work and our mission, but I also am reminded of how important and how impactful our clinicians are to those who rely upon them.
In terms of the visits themselves, I was struck once again by the challenges that some face. By how vulnerable people can become in the face of illness and other difficulties. Home health care clinicians are a lifeline, a connection for so many… and watching Christine interact with her patients was an affirming experience for me of just how valuable our role is in the care continuum. I witnessed skill and compassion combine and it was a good reminder for me for those days when conference rooms, reports and presentations leave me feeling a hundred miles away from this good work of our staff.
One patient left me with a lasting impression. He now lives alone and I saw Christine dress his significant wound connected with an assistive device, one with which this patient could not live. As she was providing care, he told me three jokes, laughing as he did so. His laughter, his attitude was infectious and I felt buoyed by the experience. He told me he had encountered recently in a restaurant another man with a similar device. That man bemoaned the challenge, reflecting upon how difficult it was to have to rely upon such a device. Christine’s patient stated to us that he saw things quite differently. He was grateful for the device, thinking that because of it, he could experience a nice conversation with another over a meal at a restaurant. I’ll remember this patient as I contend with my own glass-is-half-full vs half-empty moments.