Our patient was with us for quite some time awaiting a lung transplant. Specifically, she spent about 3 months in MICU Pod 4. She was such a wonderful person, who, given her situation, remained so positive. She had an incredible relationship with her husband. He doted on her and cared for her to the best of his ability. He needed her just as much as she needed him. Over their time spent with us, they became part of our family. One day she arrested while her husband was at her side. He couldn't leave her side and watched as we attempted to resuscitate his wife. We stayed with him and explained everything the team was doing so he could understand, helped him explain things to his daughters, and provided the support he needed to get through this horrible situation. His wife was placed on ECMO at the bedside and she was transferred immediately to the cath lab and then to P5, Cardiovascular ICU. We explained to him that he and his wife would have to change units, but they would be well cared for on P5 and that we were just right around the corner. The staff spent every day for the next 2 weeks going over to P5 and visiting with them, giving words of encouragement and lots of supportive hugs.
Sadly, she declined and passed away less than a month later. On the day of her passing, the unit made sure that the family was not alone. Our staff went to P5 and stayed with them while life-sustaining equipment was turned off and she peacefully passed away with her family and Pod 4 staff by her side. In speaking with the family after her passing they expressed how they wished they could have a memorial service here as they are from Cheboygan, MI and knew it was so far away. They felt in doing this it would provide much-needed closure for them and they would be able to share and celebrate her life with those who cared for her.
The team took on the task without hesitation and with the family, we planned a memorial service to be held on the unit. One month after she passed, the staff gathered in the breakroom with the family, where pictures of her were scrolling on the TV and her heart pillow, that we had all signed, sat. A beautiful breakfast was planned by the staff including some of her favorite breakfast items, oatmeal and bananas. John, from Pastoral Care, who had many interactions with the family and our patient, gave a beautiful service that spoke of all her favorite things and celebrated her life. The staff took turns speaking of her and telling stories about their experiences and relationships that they had built with her and her family. We were able to laugh and cry with them as we celebrated the life that we all wished was still here. We gave the family an angel, as we know she will always be with them, and a lantern so that her light with always shine.
It is so important to take the time to get to know the patients and their families that we care for. Being in the ICU and facing the challenges that ICU patients face is a fear-ridden experience for them and their families. When a relationship is built and a comfort level is gained, trust is achieved. I am so proud of my team and what they were able to give to this patient and her family. It was so much more than medicine and technology. They provided the love and support that this family and patient needed to get through each day with smiles on their faces. The end result was not what anyone wanted but the feeling that this family has of their experience here at Henry Ford Hospital will be forever remembered because of the efforts made by the Pod 4 staff.