By Michele Pilon
President/CNO, Transylvania Regional Hospital
The holidays are a time to reflect on the very many things we have to be grateful for. One of the privileges I have as president and CNO of Transylvania Regional Hospital is observing or hearing stories about how our team members touch the lives of our patients in profound ways. I’d like to share a few of those with you.
One of our patients who received outpatient rehabilitation services after a double hip replacement recently expressed delight and gratitude for the care she received. The surgery alone is significant enough, but in her letter, this patient lavishly praised both our front desk staff and the physical therapy caregivers who worked with her. It meant everything to her that the practice specialists Debi Johnson and Chelsey Pruitt, who are the first departmental contacts for patients, not only remembered her name and always greeted her warmly, but facilitated the sometimes complicated logistics of setting up appointments that work for everyone.
Our patient also expressed deep appreciation for her Physical Therapy team: physical therapist Grant Pierron and physical therapy assistant Suzanne Ellis. She described how it’s not always easy to trust someone who will be working on areas of the body that have recently experienced trauma through surgery. I was struck by her description of the unique mix of “caring and competence” each had, as well as the meaningful encouragement she received enabling her to heal successfully. She credits them with her now pain-free life, and also recognized the importance of their emotional support as she recuperated.
Our community is also impacted through other contacts beyond direct patient care. Since nearly everyone is touched somehow by cancer, many incredible bonds have been built between our patients and our cancer services staff. These are celebrated at our Cancer Center’s annual Cancer Survivorship Barbeque, free for all community cancer survivors. The staff hosts the event, and even serves every meal – 100 at our last event!
Another bond that TRH creates is through our Growing Stronger Together support group. Coordinator Joelle Cleveland, RN, BSN, OCN, of the Brevard Cancer and Infusion Center, and social worker Nancy Kurtts, LPC, are on hand every month to ensure that attendees share their experiences and validate each other, while learning from a multidisciplinary array of speakers, all experts in their fields. The group has featured speakers from the Behavioral Health, Physical Therapy and Dietary Services departments; providers also offer information on post-treatment care plans.
Nurse Cleveland feels that “…as we open our hearts and allow each other to see our personal struggles, fears and even hopelessness, healing can begin and be replaced with such emotions as hope, belonging, joy and even love.” She acknowledges that the fear of being alone is a struggle for survivors, especially as they finish treatment and find their “new normal.” “Growing Stronger Together gives us a network of like-minded people who can heal, grow, learn and begin to walk in a place of thriving and not just surviving,” she says.
TRH connects with the community through our special partnership with the Meals on Wheels (MOW) program also. An essential service for frail seniors and those with limited transportation options, MOW meal delivery is often the highlight of a recipient’s day. A Brevard resident with mobility challenges who worked hard all his life as a farmer and textile worker is grateful that he and his wife – married 64 years – receive meals five times per week. Another Brevard community member firmly believes that the sustenance provided by MOW contributed to keeping his elderly mother alive in the final phase of her life, while a Transylvania County resident relishes her chats with the meal deliverer.
The tight bonds that develop between TRH staff and our patients and community are a result of building trust and patients knowing we don’t see them as numbers but as individuals. The relationships we’ve built are healthcare professionals’ richest rewards. Thank you for a rich and meaningful 2018. I wish you grace and renewal this holiday season.
Michele Pilon, MS, BSN, RN, NE-BC, is the President and CNO of Transylvania Regional Hospital. Her diverse professional experience includes service as a bedside nurse and over a decade as a leader at healthcare institutions in Virginia, Florida, and North Carolina. Ms. Pilon earned a Bachelor’s in Nursing from Ohio’s University of Akron and a Masters in Health Services Administration from the University of St. Francis in Illinois; she is also a Board-Certified Nursing Executive.