In the years that I have been in Kaiser, I’ve worked with many excellent care providers, including physicians, nursing staff, and ancillary staff. However, Terri (Chunmei) is by far exceptional in so many ways. I work for the cardiac transplant team and take care of many complicated patients. One such patient Mr. A., has been followed by the Advanced Heart failure/MNS/Transplant service for many years. His course has been complicated as we have struggled with his heart failure, taken him through a rocky course with a left ventricular assist device (LVAD), and finally through a complicated transplant, and post-transplant course. Understandably, he’s struggled with depression, deconditioning, weakness and oftentimes refuses to participate in PT or engage with the Healthcare team. It appeared that Mr. A would never make significant progress, and now we had to locate care facilities that may be able to meet his complex needs.
Terri began to work with Mr. A, encouraging him to sit up at the side of the bed to develop core muscle strength for 30 minutes daily, so he would not slump in his chair. She massaged his contracted hands and feet and worked with extremity exercises to regain some of his prior strength and flexibility. When he struggled with weaning from the vent for 5 minutes, she talked him through his anxiety, so he could tolerate hours of vent weaning. The more time she spent with him, the better his affect and mood, the more willing he was to engage with other providers.
During the weeks Terri spent with him, it was obvious how proud he was of his accomplishments. She treated him with dignity and respect, encouraging him to do things on his own, believing in him with her unique sense of compassion and respect. Many of the caregivers had given up on his ability to ever wean from support. Terri questioned that belief and challenged us to do more for him. In the 14 years that I have been practicing, Terri’s actions reminded us of the impact that one individual can make in the care of these complex patients. Terri showed her exceptional care through her bedside manner, everyday routine, decisions, help from management, and creative approach to think “out of the box”.
We are fortunate to have her care for our patients, and be a role model for our staff!