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6 Tough Diagnoses, 6 Amazing Stories of Patient Perseverance and Resilience
spinal implant that gave a young boy a chance at a normal life. Medication that helped make living—and thriving—with HIV possible. Surgery that helped alleviate the shame and pain that came with a childbirth injury.
While it may seem like these stories are unrelated, they have one important uniting theme: Johnson & Johnson helped pave the way for these patients across the globe to triumph over adversity.
Putting patients first is at the heart of Johnson & Johnson's ethos, and at the forefront of Our Credo , the company's guiding mission statement written 75 years ago, which states in its very first paragraph that "in meeting [patients'] needs everything we do must be of high quality."
To highlight how deeply committed Johnson & Johnson is to the men, women and children around the world who rely on its treatments, medical devices and other lifesaving programs and products, we're sharing six exceptional and inspirational patient stories.
Hope in the Form of a Spinal Implant Matthew Houder, 12, Pennsylvania, U.S.
When Matthew Houder was born in 2006, his parents, Charles and Meghan, held their breath.
“We already knew that he had many significant medical complications,” Charles says. Chief among them: scoliosis. “He had an extreme curvature of the spine,” Charles adds. And it needed to be fixed in the next few years so that his lungs could develop.
For much of the first two years of his life, Matthew couldn’t sit up, crawl or walk or talk. He spit up his food and had to be fed through a tube. It was devastating for his parents to watch.
“Meghan and I were processing all these emotions, mostly sadness and fear,” Charles says. “But we also knew we had to act.”
A turning point came when the Houders met Dr. Robert Campbell, an orthopedic surgeon and then-director of the Center for Thoracic Insufficiency Syndrome at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Dr. Campbell, who specialized in treating children with spinal deformities, drew on a piece of paper his plan for Matthew: build an internal scaffolding to create the space the boy’s curved spine couldn’t currently provide.
The words were prophetic. Following a second surgery in 2010 to expand the VEPTR Device, Matthew began to walk. To keep formula down. To go on family trips. Share
Dr. Campbell was describing the DePuy Synthes device that he had actually invented in the late 1980s: the VEPTR® Vertical Expandable Prosthetic Titanium Rib , a curved metal rod that is surgically attached to a pediatric patient's rib, spine or pelvis, using hooks on both ends. It expands to help straighten the spine and separate ribs so that a child’s lungs have room to grow as he does.
In the spring of 2010, Matthew, not quite 4, was strong enough for his first VEPTR Device surgery. “It was a difficult, five-hour operation, and the recovery was as tough as it gets," Charles recalls.
After 10 days in the hospital, Matthew came home and he still couldn’t walk, and had trouble sitting up and eating.
But Dr. Campbell insisted: “Don’t lose faith.”
The words were prophetic. Following a second surgery in 2010 to expand the VEPTR Device, “Matthew began an upward trajectory that hasn’t stopped," Meghan says. Matthew began to walk. To keep formula down. To go on family trips.
The boy, now 12, has since undergone 25 VEPTR Device surgeries to keep the expansion apace with his growth. Since Dr. Campbell’s death in July 2018, his proteges have taken over Matthew’s care without missing a beat.
Although Matthew can’t talk due to low muscle tone (he communicates with an Apple device), he is a fun brother to his three siblings, and a lover of chocolate milk, YouTube videos and cars.
And he has a family that is deeply dedicated to caring for him.
“We are so grateful to have that family love," Charles says. "And we were so lucky to have Dr. Campbell in Matthew’s life. In our years working with him, he always looked not merely at the patient, but at the whole family.”
A Life-Changing Fistula Surgery Jenipher Musonda, 53, Zambia
When Jenipher Musonda gave birth to her fifth baby, everything about the experience was different.
She was experiencing prolonged labor, and the baby failed to descend. It was very hard to get from her rural village in Zambia to a medical center, and when she finally did reach the hospital, Jenipher was in extreme pain.
There, a double tragedy occurred. Jenipher’s baby was stillborn, and she was afflicted with obstetric fistula , an opening between a woman’s genital tract and the urinary tract or rectum, caused by birth trauma.
The condition is often the result of long, unattended labor, when the baby’s head pushes against the mother’s pelvic bone, causing a lack of blood flow that then leads to the death of tissue. The result: chronic incontinence, including a foul smell.
Since Jenipher had the condition for 23 years, she knew the results might not be immediate—or even possible. But her surgeon worked miracles. Share
Due to her condition, Jenipher was shamed within her community, and her husband abandoned her. “I had to cut small pieces of cloth from old blankets to use as protective clothing, and I changed clothes regularly,” she says. “I never went to public gatherings.”
Jenipher’s condition occurs most often in resource-poor settings, like sub-Saharan Africa or Southeast Asia, where timely access to obstetric care can be limited. To help provide relief, the Fistula Foundation , a not-for-profit organization that funds repair surgeries, has been making strides in helping women like Jenipher.
Over the last decade, Johnson & Johnson has partnered with the organization, donating close to $1 million to support fistula treatment, prevention and education.
Twenty-three years later, Jenipher's life changed again—this time for the better—on an ordinary day in February 2017. She was listening to the radio when Bwalya Chomba, a social worker and program manager of the Fistula Foundation in Zambia, made an announcement about fistula repair surgery at a nearby hospital.
"I called the number that was given on the radio," Jenipher says. "I was screened on the phone, and was given an appointment at Mansa General Hospital."
Since Jenipher had the condition for 23 years, she knew the results might not be immediate—or even possible. But her surgeon, Dr. Aubrey Shanzi, worked miracles.
"I’m now [living] without fear or shame," she says. “God works through people.”
And through organizations like the Fistula Foundation and its partners.
A Second Chance at Life After Surviving a Blood Clot Erin Frost, 33, North Carolina, U.S.
Erin Frost was at a holiday party when she noticed that her left leg was swollen and bruised. She was heavily, and joyously, pregnant with her first baby, who was conceived after nine years of trying and four rounds of in vitro fertilization.
This upsetting late-pregnancy development led Frost and her husband, Andy, straight to a local emergency room, and the baby—a girl named Caroline—was delivered two days later by emergency cesarean section. Tragically, she was born with a fatal developmental abnormality and died within six hours.
“I was actually thankful that [the leg bruising] happened when it did, because if we hadn’t gone to the hospital for my condition, she would have been stillborn,” Frost says. “We would have lost her without meeting her, loving her and holding her."
After six months, they didn't consider the blood clot active anymore. I'm lucky to be here, and I try not to take a single minute for granted. Share
Frost was discharged, but once back home, the pain and swelling in her leg continued to worsen over the next few days. Her ob-gyn urged her to come to the hospital, where an ultrasound disclosed that she had deep vein thrombosis (DVT), “an alarming blood clot that extended from my groin to about halfway down my calf.”
Because Frost just had major abdominal surgery, her doctors were extremely careful about figuring out which blood thinner to put her on, since she was at a high risk for internal bleeding.
Thankfully, there was a treatment that worked for Frost and “after six months, they didn't consider the blood clot active anymore," she says. "Although any future pregnancy will be risky for me, I know that I'm very lucky to have the opportunity to try to have another baby. I'm lucky to be here at all, and I try not to take a single minute for granted."
She also doesn't forget about the silver lining that accompanied her tragic delivery: getting to meet Caroline, if only briefly. “She was perfect," Frost says. "She had red hair, like me. She was absolutely precious and worth every bit of pain and sadness.”
Living and Thriving With HIV Ntimbwe Mpamba, 35, South Africa
To be an HIV-positive professional woman in Zambia in the early 1980s was taboo.
That was the case with Ntimbwe Mpamba’s mother, a nutritionist who was HIV-positive when she was pregnant with him. And in their dignified middle-class family, this was a secret that had to be kept.
“At the age of 4 I started losing weight,” says Mpamba, now an activist fighting the stigmatization of AIDS. His mother put him on vitamins and a healthy diet, but he spent years in and out of hospitals as a sickly child.
I have learned that being HIV-positive is not a death sentence, nor should it bring the kind of shame that my mother felt it would. With the right treatment, you can have a normal life. Share
When Mpamba was 23, his mother died, and he finally learned the truth she tragically had to keep secret—he was HIV-positive. “I was shocked,” he says.
By then, he’d lost vision in his right eye and partial use of his lungs. His white blood cell count had plummeted, and his viral load (the amount of HIV in his blood) had shot up.
In 2011, Mpamba enrolled in a research program for a treatment, which, in concert with other drugs, worked to reduce a patient’s viral load and increase white blood cell counts.
His health has since improved, and “I am a grateful man. I have a girlfriend. And I have learned that being HIV-positive is not a death sentence, nor should it bring the kind of shame that my mother felt it would. With the right treatment, you can have a normal life. I have met the virus, fought the virus and overcome the virus.”
Living With Incurable Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension Catarina Rosa Morais Chato, 25, Portugal
Catarina Rosa Morais Chato had heart surgery when she was just 6 months old to repair a hole in her heart.
The operation was effective in closing the hole, but four years later, she developed pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), a type of high blood pressure in the heart and lungs that can be associated with congenital heart disease—and for which there is no cure.
Her symptoms included coughing, fatigue, chest pain and feeling faint, especially when climbing stairs. She was told to stop all forms of exercise, since physical activity would be too draining on her body. “My dream of dancing died that day,” she says, adding that she felt isolated when she couldn't join her friends on the sports field.
Despite all the sad times I have been through, I am alive. I work, I drive, I travel, I do housekeeping, I get to watch my nephews grow up. Twenty-five years ago there was not as much hope for people with PAH. Share
Following her diagnosis, she quickly began treatment to help manage her symptoms—and enable her to live a fairly normal life.
That includes working as a personal care assistant, helping nurses in the same hospital where she was born. At first, she found the long hours on her feet very tiring. But thanks to a flexible schedule, as well as learning to go at her own pace, “I exceed my expectations,” she says.
She's also found love: "My fiance, Tiago, has always supported me. He comes with me to cardiology visits, reminds me to take my medication and does things like carry the shopping bag for me.”
Reflecting on the challenges she has overcome, Chato feels pride. “Despite all the sad times I have been through, I am alive. I work, I drive, I travel, I do housekeeping, I get to watch my nephews grow up," she says. "Twenty-five years ago there was not as much hope for people with PAH. My advice to anyone is: Be happy, enjoy every minute of your life and don't give up."
Rebuilding After a Surprise Stroke Angie Kohler, 39, Ohio, U.S.
It came completely out of the blue. One Thursday night in 2016, Angie Kohler, an avid runner, was at the gym, sprinting on the treadmill.
All of a sudden her left arm felt funny, so she walked off the treadmill and ... “Boom. I fell down,” she recalls. “I couldn’t move my whole left side.”
The medics reported that she'd had a stroke, something her husband, Matt, couldn’t believe. “She was 37, in perfect health, had never smoked and ate a healthy diet,” he says.
I now have an immediate connection with anyone who has had a stroke, and want to give them hope that recovery is possible. Share
At the hospital, they learned that Kohler's stroke, caused by a blood clot, was large and disabling. When the usual treatment—medication that breaks up clots—didn't work, Kohler’s doctor turned to the EmboTrap® II Device , which works by gripping and then removing a clot.
While in the hospital, Kohler was fearful. “I was thinking about my daughter," she says. "Would she remember me if I died?"
But those fears were unfounded. Kohler's doctors cleared the clot, and she was able to return to work within two weeks.
Today Kohler still experiences minor short-term memory issues, but, otherwise, her improvement has been substantial. She even completed a half-marathon this past April.
And Kohler’s initial anger about suffering a health crisis that usually occurs in people twice her age has turned to gratitude. “I am extremely lucky," she says. "I’ve gotten better—not quite the way I was before the stroke—but very close. I now have an immediate connection with anyone who has had a stroke, and want to give them hope that recovery is possible."
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23 Very Real & Very Emotional Stories From Medical Professionals
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We all know that doctors , nurses, physician’s assistants, and EMTs are heroes, even when we’re not dealing with them directly.
VIDEOS BY INSPIRE MORE
These people go to school for years on end and sacrifice much of their personal lives so that they can save others, but sometimes, the true power of what they do shines through in the smaller stories. The little anecdotes teach us the meaning of life, the power of loss, and the strength of the human spirit. Recently, tweets by medical professionals went viral and the 23 small stories have huge messages about humanity that we all need to hear.
1. The best possible news to deliver!
2. it gets better., 3. the human ability to persevere is truly incredible., 4. we live on in the memories of others., 5. a moment from when she was two years old shaped her whole life., 6. medical professionals leave lasting impressions on so many people., 7. first responders really are everyday heroes., 8. doctors and nurses save patients and patients end up returning the favor, even when they don’t make it., 9. it’s amazing how doctors’ and patients’ lives become intertwined., 10. there’s a wake-up call for you., 11. they shine when it all comes down to the wire., 12. the smallest moments in our lives can leave the biggest impressions., 13. your legacy will never die., 14. love the people in your life while you can show them how much you care., 15. the best kind of anniversary on earth., 16. sometimes your gut tells you when to push through., 17. everyone deserves our compassion and humanity., 18. you never know when a simple conversation can save a life., 19. this guy’s a fighter look at that smile., 20. we sometimes all need a reminder that we’re moving in the right direction., 21. even paths that cross for a few brief moments can change an entire life., 22. everyone deserves love, dignity, and respect., 23. they sent her a sign..
That really puts everything in perspective, doesn’t it? Be sure to share these stories with the people you love.
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Read more like this, more popular posts, brighten the world and spread hope.
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Why I’m a doctor: Life-changing stories from med students
I am a professor of family medicine at the University of Minnesota Medical School. During their third and fourth years, students must complete a four-week clerkship in family medicine. The clerkship includes a “significant-event reflection” project, in which students discuss patient encounters that they’ve found especially meaningful.
Over nearly a decade as a facilitator for these groups, I have heard many powerful and emotional stories. I’ve often felt deeply moved–and admiring of the students for their honesty, courage and humanity. Here are three of many whose stories I carry with me.
“Sure, I’ll go first!” said Rob. A fourth-year student, he was about to enter a radiology residency. Rob had a bright, open face and quick smile, and knowing that family medicine wasn’t his chosen specialty made me appreciate his enthusiasm all the more.
“I haven’t ever had a chance to talk about this, even though it happened nearly two years ago,” he began. It had taken place during his first clerkship, emergency medicine. He was in the ER one night when word came that a young man from a nearby town was being helicoptered in; he’d suffered a serious motor-vehicle accident.
“When the patient arrived, he was barely alive,” Rob said. “He had massive trauma to his head and chest.”
As Rob spoke, his face grew increasingly strained. His chin began to tremble, and his eyes teared up. He tried to press on but kept stopping.
“I can’t believe I’m getting emotional,” he said. “It was nearly two years ago.” After a few more tries, he broke down and sobbed loudly. Some of his classmates cried too, or took his hands and offered comforting words.
Ultimately, Rob couldn’t finish telling us what had upset him so. Was it seeing an otherwise healthy young man from a small town — a young man like himself — die so quickly, so easily and so traumatically? Typically, radiologists have little direct contact with patients. Could this have been a factor in motivating Rob’s choice? His profound response to his patient’s death took me by surprise, but it was inspiring and so refreshing to see a physician-to-be with such a big heart.
Anita, another fourth-year student, was someone I’d known since first year. Although she was engaging and gregarious, my feelings about her were mixed. She’d championed every possible social cause — the outreach team for the homeless, the student-run free clinic, the pro-choice group and many more. When a classmate’s academic failures had put him at risk of dismissal, she’d attended his hearing and had castigated our faculty for being heartless. Now, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.
The minute her words began, so did her tears. In a family-medicine clinic, she’d seen a middle-aged patient named Tom. Her open, encouraging approach had enabled them to connect quickly, and when asked why he was there, he’d confided that he was a longtime alcoholic and was trying to quit yet again. On his last few attempts, he’d suffered seizures and had needed to be hospitalized — very scary. He’d come to ask for a prescription for an anti-seizure medication to “cover” him during this withdrawal.
“That sounded reasonable,” Anita said. “I said it was great that he was being proactive, and that I was sure the clinic could help.”
She’d presented Tom’s history to the chief resident. “While I talked, he reviewed an online textbook. He said, ‘There’s a twenty-percent risk of death during alcohol withdrawal.’
“We went to the attending physician, and she insisted that a patient who has previously seized shouldn’t withdraw at home.” The attending strongly recommended hospitalization.
“I felt so sad as we went back to Tom — I felt that I’d let him down,” Anita wept.
Tom’s response was swift: “I’m not going into the hospital.” He started to leave, but the resident asked him to wait. He and the attending put Tom on a “transportation hold,” which authorized sending him to the ER, against his will if necessary, to be evaluated for admission.
Despite her horror, Anita had voiced no protest. I felt intrigued that she, of all people, hadn’t fought back.
Sobbing loudly, Anita described how the security guard had come, how Tom had protested before finally giving in, and how the paramedics had strapped him into a gurney and wheeled him out.
“He gave me this look of betrayal as he went by … it felt like a dagger in my heart,” she cried. “Later I learned that the ER just discharged him home, without any medication.” Her suspicions that the attending had acted defensively, rather than from real concern, left her feeling even worse.
Hearing this, I felt my attitude towards Anita change. I could better understand what motivated her passion for justice but didn’t say anything beyond thanking her for her sharing.
Alexandra was someone I’d never met before. Reading to us from her laptop, she’d clearly taken the time to craft a beautifully composed reflection.
“As a second-year student, I was assigned to shadow a pediatric nephrologist,” she began. “It was exciting for me to meet children who had kidney disorders — especially since I’d had a similar condition as a child. One day, my preceptor met with a young girl’s parents to explain that she had an uncommon form of kidney disease called glomerulonephritis.”
Alexandra looked up at us and smiled. “I was happy to hear it, because that was the same condition I’d had at her age.” After prolonged courses of steroids and several years of follow-up in a renal clinic, she said, she’d gone into remission.
“I was really dismayed when I heard the nephrologist give the family a bleak prognosis,” Alexandra continued. “She emphasized every possible negative outcome: the patient could develop kidney failure; she might need dialysis. I wanted to offer my own experience as a counterbalance, but I was just there to shadow. Then the doctor got paged and left the room. After a moment of silence, I told the family, ‘I had this same illness.’ ”
She shared her own experience with them. “I felt guilty saying that I thought the nephrologist had painted too negative a picture, but I did. Then the doctor came back and picked up where she’d left off. When the family left, they thanked me even more than they did the nephrologist.”
When the doctor asked for her thoughts, Alexandra replied, “I believe that the prognosis is better than what you conveyed.”
“In my view, chronic kidney disease is a more likely outcome,” the doctor countered. “I feel obliged to share that with a new family.”
Alexandra gazed at us with wide, tear-filled eyes.
“I know that little girl is going to do well,” she said, quietly but firmly. She confided that she herself had suffered a flare-up a year ago and was back on steroids.
Still, here she is, looking straight ahead, expecting the best and smiling, I thought. Listening to this brave, young soon-to-be physician, I felt my own eyes fill up.
I don’t know where Rob, Anita and Alexandra are now, or how sharing their stories affected them, but I’ll never forget them and the emotional sharing that revealed so much about their personalities.
I hope that sharing their stories helped them to remain compassionate and whole as they continued their medical training. I know that listening to students’ stories always reminds me of my humanity — and of why I chose to practice medicine in the first place.
Image credit: Shutterstock.com
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These stories of what inspires local doctors will brighten your day
As part of our annual Top Doctors 2021 list, we asked local doctors to tell us, in their own words, about their most inspiring patient stories. Read them here.
By Editorial February 9, 2021
Nearly a year into a devastating pandemic, doctors have played a central role in helping humanity fight a virus and offering us all a bit of hope. But what gives them hope? It turns out, oftentimes it’s their own patients. This year, we asked local doctors to tell us a story about a patient that has stuck with them over the years. Whether it’s a patient in recent memory or someone from decades ago, these uplifting stories remind us that there are heroes among us.
Dr. Curtiland Deville Jr.
Radiation Oncology, Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, Sibley Memorial Hospital
Growing up, I always knew that I wanted to be a doctor. Since no one in my family was a doctor, when people would ask what kind, I would say pediatrician and later sports medicine, presumably because that’s all I knew. However, when I started my third-year clinical rotations as a medical student, I was immediately drawn to oncology when I experienced patients receiving a life-changing diagnosis in a moment. I had a strong desire to support them through their journey of understanding, workup, treatment and management. I became fascinated with radiation oncology and the opportunity to use ever-changing and evolving technology to target, treat and potentially cure cancer, often with completely noninvasive techniques. During my residency training in radiation oncology, I was drawn to prostate cancer when I noticed men—from stoic to chatty to everything in between—being diagnosed and needing to navigate complex treatment options during potentially sensitive and uncomfortable conversations regarding topics like erectile, bladder, bowel and sexual function in addition to survival and prognosis.
Because prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, I see men from all walks of life, and I ultimately have the same goals of care to achieve. One very satisfying patient scenario was recently supporting a patient who was diagnosed simultaneously with a muscle invasive bladder cancer and oligometastatic prostate cancer. He is a yoga instructor and scuba diver, so the surgical option of removing the bladder and prostate that was presented to him at an outside institution was not easily compatible with his lifestyle and the activities that he enjoyed in his retirement. He sought a second opinion at our institution, and after multidisciplinary review of his case, we offered him a trimodality strategy known as bladder preservation, where he underwent resection of the bladder tumor followed by concurrent chemotherapy and radiation. He remained without evidence of bladder cancer and was able to resume the activities that brought him great pleasure. It was extremely pleasing to review his pictures from Bali, where he continued his yoga and scuba diving.
When cancer touched my family, I found that to be my most stirring patient scenario. I was there to support my close uncle when he was diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer and ultimately passed from it three years later. Prior to then, prostate cancer management was somewhat abstract. I could think about things in a somewhat dissociated, intellectual and very clinical way. With my uncle, I had to still do that, but I was forced to understand the emotional toll and impact of every decision, every new piece of information, diagnosis, blood test and imaging result, the periods of uncertainty and the unknowing of exactly how things would play out, despite knowing all of the statistics on outcomes and prognosis. I can only imagine that this duality was meant to make me a more compassionate and empathetic doctor, as scarring and jarring as it was. Because of that experience, I can sit with my patients, particularly those who are not curable, and acknowledge the depth and breadth of their emotions in an authentic way. Although I still mourn the loss of my uncle, I am thankful for those life lessons.
Dr. Kostas J. Constantine
Orthopedic Surgery, Mary Washington Healthcare
One day in the fall of 2003, I received an urgent request to assist one of my orthopedic partners in the operating room. I left my clinic and rushed to the OR. My associate quickly explained to me that the patient was an 8-year-old girl who had recently fallen; she presented with a severe open fracture of her elbow and forearm that he had operated on the day before. The astute floor nurses were concerned about her severe pain and asked him to reevaluate her. He immediately called the OR staff, who urgently readied a room, and she was now on the table. He needed assistance when he found that she had a severe infection with nerve and muscle damage in her forearm. The patient required six more surgeries to clear the severe infection and finally allow her bones to heal. Her parents were extremely attentive and supportive as I explained to them I thought she would have long-term dysfunction of her hand.
Neither she nor her family were deterred by my pessimism. She went through intensive therapy and worked diligently to regain some of her hand function. She even began to play the violin. As she grew, however, she developed some more long-term symptoms that affected her hand function and required several more operations over the next 10 years. During that time, however, I was able to watch her blossom: learning to play the drums in the band, getting a puppy, visiting Disney, attending college for special education, going to Owl City concerts, getting married and now expecting! Even with such a severe injury as a child, she persevered.
Her story reminds me of what being a physician is all about. To help take care of people under difficult circumstances and then see them recover and succeed is what makes our work as physicians so satisfying. I always try my best, and I only regret that surgery is not always 100% successful no matter how hard I work.
Dr. Rebecca E. Levorson
Infectious Disease, Pediatric Specialists of Virginia
As we have all endured the COVID-19 pandemic, we have faced situations never encountered before, which have required flexibility and teamwork. So I want to share a topical story related to this.
On one Saturday evening in May, when most people were finishing dinner or starting to watch a movie at home, I received a call from a colleague in the emergency department. My colleague was evaluating an ill child with COVID-19 who would be hospitalized. My colleague wanted to know what else could be given to the patient to prevent further worsening of the patient’s respiratory illness. After hearing about this patient, I dropped what I was doing and headed straight to the emergency department to see the patient. Specifically, I needed to determine if the patient would qualify for administration of the antiviral medication remdesivir, which was still an experimental treatment at that time.
The patient’s illness was severe enough that he did qualify for remdesivir, but there were many more steps needed before he could receive the medicine. Time was of the essence for this patient as his breathing could have significantly worsened the longer his illness lasted, and waiting until Monday to approve remdesivir was not acceptable. So I called my research coordinator to get remdesivir approved on a Saturday evening, and she made it happen. The hospital pharmacist was able to then measure the correct amount for the patient, and his nurse gave the first dose without any problems. Over the next few days, the patient continued to receive further doses with gradual improvement in his breathing. Before our eyes, we saw the treatment helping the patient. Eventually, the patient was able to leave the hospital.
This story highlights the power of cooperation and teamwork for our patients. I have never felt so lucky to be able to work collaboratively with so many people as I have during the COVID-19 pandemic. Each health care member has an important role to play in the care of our patients, and I embrace these collaborations, which have been born out during a very challenging time.
Dr. Ara M. Maranian
Cardiovascular Disease, Novant Health UVA Health System
Over the course of my career—both as a civilian doctor and as an Air Force major serving two tours in Iraq—I’ve had many impactful patient experiences that have taught me valuable life lessons.
One patient who sticks with me to this day was someone I saw before I was even a practicing physician. I was on my very first clinical rotation—general surgery at the VA Medical Center in Washington, DC—and an older gentleman was admitted toward the end of his life presenting with an untreatable cancer.
As a third-year medical student, I didn’t make any decisions or provide any specific treatment. The only care I was responsible for was rounding on him daily and checking on him throughout the day. He told me stories of his life, and we had conversations about current events, but I didn’t really do anything to relieve his physical pain. When he was discharged, he left a handwritten card for me at the nurses’ station, thanking me for all the great care I had provided.
It caught me off guard; I didn’t think I’d had a direct effect on his care since I didn’t perform any procedures or make any decisions. By simply visiting him every morning and spending quality time with him, it hit me that I did have an impact on his care. I didn’t realize it at the time, but those conversations about his life helped take his mind off his prognosis. Though I didn’t think much of our talks, our daily encounters gave him something to look forward to while he was in the hospital.
He passed about a week later in his home, but I still hold on to his card to remind me that medicine is about not just the diagnosis but also our interactions with a patient. As a doctor, these one-on-one conversations can influence patients in ways we might not realize. We don’t often see the significant impact our actions have on our patients, most of whom are faced with scary circumstances that may leave them feeling vulnerable.
I often find myself thinking back to my time with this patient, and it makes me smile to remember the impact he had on me, as well. Though a card may not seem like much to most, through it, he taught me to be deliberate in every interaction I have with someone, in medicine and in life.
Dr. Steven K. Nakao
No one wants to hear they have cancer. From personal experience, I know that there is a lot of fear, sadness, anger and hope when dealing with such a diagnosis. When you have a newly diagnosed cancer complicated by the COVID pandemic, all of those emotions are amplified. Recently, I had the opportunity to treat someone who was experiencing abdominal pain and bleeding for months. Like many of us, the patient tried to rationalize it as something else. Unfortunately, like many other patients this year, she was not able to have the necessary tests to work up her symptoms due to the fear of and restrictions from COVID. When she was able to get evaluated, she was found to have a large ulcerating colon cancer. At that point, we tried to expedite and coordinate medical and surgical care for her newly diagnosed colon cancer.
After reviewing her records and discussing options, I recommended a robotic colectomy would be best for her. At a time when hospitals were not doing elective surgery cases, we proceeded with the surgery as soon as possible, understanding that this was not an elective surgery. Unfortunately, as I sent her for preoperative testing, we quickly learned she was positive for COVID, which made for a very difficult phone call prior to her surgery. Once again, we were faced with another delay. Unsure of how severe her COVID symptoms would become, we postponed the surgery for two weeks out of an abundance of caution for her and the staff.
Fortunately, her COVID symptoms were mild, and we proceeded with surgery at the next scheduled date. Her surgery was uneventful and went exactly as planned. Since we were able to perform a robotic colectomy, she had minimal postoperative pain, she regained her strength quickly, and she was discharged from the hospital in two days without any narcotics. Most importantly, regardless of all of the delays, she had a very favorable pathology and had a stage I colon cancer. During her follow-up appointments, she was told that she would not need any further treatment for her cancer and would only need surveillance for now.
I was so fortunate to be part of the team for her care. I am thankful to be able to offer patients the best in surgical care as we continue to strive to improve health every day.
Dr. Patricia Rodriguez
Medical Oncology, Virginia Cancer Specialists
About 10 years ago, a woman in her 70s with multiple myeloma came to see me for a follow-up after her regular oncologist retired. I was immediately struck by the patient’s positive attitude and unwavering smile. As we discussed her past treatment for multiple myeloma, she mentioned that she’d previously had breast cancer when she was in her 40s.
As the physician in charge of genetic testing at Virginia Cancer Specialists, I’m very interested in patient histories. I was immediately concerned and asked her about her family history of cancer, as well. Turns out, there were several instances of both breast and ovarian cancer. I knew immediately that this patient was someone who needed genetic testing.
To her credit, the patient quickly agreed, not just out of concern for her own health, but for the health of her daughters and other family members. She was tested, and it was determined that she had the BRCA1 gene mutation, which put her at extensive risk for both breast and uterine cancer. Due to her history with cancer and the discovered gene mutation, the patient decided that after dealing with cancer twice before, she didn’t want to go through it again. She opted for a bilateral mastectomy and bilateral oophorectomy. In the meantime, we tested her daughters for the BRCA1 gene and determined that all three were negative for the mutation.
We continued to follow the patient’s multiple myeloma, but a few years later, her skin suddenly turned yellow. It was soon discovered that she had bile duct cancer, her third malignancy. Once again, the patient underwent surgery, having her bile ducts removed in a Whipple procedure.
After recovering from surgery, the patient came back to undergo chemotherapy at our office. I was astounded. After all she’d been through, she was still smiling. She told me again how grateful she was that her daughters had tested negative for the BRCA1 gene mutation. Her love for her family came across in every word she spoke, and I was proud to have helped set her mind at ease during those difficult times.
This patient has now been living with cancer for more than 30 years. She has a great quality of life, exercises regularly and eats well, and she’s not going to let anything stop her. She’s an inspiration to her family—and frankly, to her doctors. She’s outliving her cancer, and she’s doing it with a smile.
Dr. Eric A. Widra
Obstetrics and Gynecology, Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, Shady Grove Fertility
Selecting just one standout patient story is an impossible task. Throughout my career, I have had so many favorite cases that I can’t choose one. I have had cases where a woman donated eggs to her sister so she could start her own family after years of struggle. A family who turned to in vitro fertilization to help them eliminate an inherited disease in their family history. Couples who continually miscarried and were finally able to have a healthy child through IVF and genetic testing of their embryos. The woman whose uterus was lost to cancer or surgery and now has a family by using a gestational carrier. The couple who thought they couldn’t have kids because of a low sperm count. The same-sex couples who need our help to start their families. All of these are a tapestry of favorites whom I have been privileged to help.
Each day, we have a list of patients who have come in for testing, and we review their results in the afternoon. Many of them are having their first pregnancy test after a treatment. As I click on their names, I have the same rush of hope and anticipation for a positive result that I had on my first day as a fertility doctor.
Dr. David S. Yoho
Infectious Disease, Mid-Atlantic Permanente Medical Group, Kaiser Permanente
When an abnormal CT scan showed multiple nodules in the lungs of a patient in 2019, I became very concerned and jumped into action.
I immediately ordered labs to get a more well-rounded idea of her health status. A new diagnosis of AIDS and disseminated tuberculosis was made. The patient was started on four different kinds of TB meds along with steroids and later started on three different kinds of HIV medications. Unfortunately, the patient developed severe immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome, a known complication after starting life-saving medications. As a result, she developed large areas of swelling and draining abscesses in her neck, which caused her a great deal of distress. Through it all, this patient exemplified great adherence to all forms of the challenging treatment.
In January 2020, four months after receiving the diagnosis of AIDS and TB, the patient’s health took a turn for the worse. Increased swelling in the neck and difficulty breathing led to her admission to a local hospital. The patient underwent an extensive workup during that admission and was found to have B-cell lymphoma, an AIDS-related cancer centered in lymph nodes. The patient sustained nerve damage to her face, tongue and vocal cords, developed a blood clot in the blood vessels of her brain and had a seizure during her first round of chemotherapy, all of which led to an extensive two-month hospitalization. Despite the odds against her, the patient continued to show an unbelievable will to survive. This was an inspiration to me and the other physicians on her treatment team.
Our integrated multispecialty care team immediately engaged to save this patient’s life. Our patient was seen by physicians from neurology, hematology, oncology, neuroradiology and infectious diseases. This coordinated team approach proved to be highly effective. Our patient remains in remission four months after finishing her chemotherapy. She has successfully completed TB treatment and simplified her HIV treatment to one pill once a day, and most importantly, she has her life back.
At every step of her treatment, this patient’s resilience and positive attitude left me in awe. I have no doubt the access to coordinated care saved her life during this pandemic. Her patience and respect for each member of her care team gave us tremendous gratitude for one another and our shared commitment to put our patients first. In midst of a challenging year, she reminded me so many times why I am proud to be a physician with the Permanente Medical Group, where together we always put patient care front and center.
Dr. Ebony R. Hoskins
Gynecologic Oncology, MedStar Washington Hospital Center
This summer, I had an established patient who was diagnosed with a malignant bowel obstruction. She was young, just 41 years old, and admitted in the hospital for four weeks. She wasn’t able to eat or drink, and she was in significant amounts of pain. There came a point in her hospital stay when I questioned myself, “Will she leave the hospital alive?” I think what made her hospital stay even more difficult was the fact that she couldn’t have any visitors. I did not realize visits from family and friends were such a critical component in the healing process prior to the onset of the global pandemic. Four weeks may not sound like a long time, but in a hospital, without visitors, it can feel like a lifetime. The doctors, nurses and staff attempted to fill that void, but it’s just not the same. We are able to take care of patients medically and surgically, but there is a strong component of family support that is needed to help them emotionally, mentally and spiritually. It’s been difficult during the COVID pandemic because medical providers and staff cannot provide all of those essential components, as much as we would like to.
Thankfully, she turned the corner and was able to leave the hospital eating and drinking. Fast forward to six months later: She’s completed her chemotherapy plan, and her recent imaging shows no evidence of disease. She is doing well physically, emotionally and spiritually.
This experience with my patient showed me as a doctor that medicine is not the only component needed for healing. My patient was a woman of faith, and there really is a mind, body and spirit connection that contributes to the healing process. We get to the point in medicine where we can do everything in our power—use the best medicine, have access to the best resources—but there’s also an element to the human body where the spirit helps to heal.
Recently, I got the COVID-19 vaccine, and I’m hopeful that cancer patients and the general population are willing to get inoculated as soon as it becomes available. This will give us more normalcy and hopefully will allow visitors back into the hospital. Prior to the global pandemic, it was easier to take visitors for granted. Now we know just how important family and friends are in the healing process.
Dr. Richard F. Neville
Vascular Surgery, Inova
For my entire career, helping my patients save their limbs has been a passion. I have been dedicated to restoring circulation to promote healing and avoid amputation. Unfortunately, amputation remains a significant problem in our health care system and around the world, so much so that some of my colleagues and I started a society—the Critical Limb Ischemia Global Society—to address the issue. The problem is that when someone has an amputation, it’s more than just losing the limb. Patients have a very high incidence of having the other leg amputated in a couple years and an increased mortality rate. So I always tell people that we’re not only saving your leg, but also keeping you functional and, in many ways, expanding your life span. We are currently building a multidisciplinary team at Inova to focus on limb preservation, including advanced vascular techniques as well as state-of-the-art podiatric and plastic surgical care.
Even as we work on this issue, the number of amputations being performed in America remains significant, in large measure because diabetes is skyrocketing, and diabetes can lead to amputation. Coupled with that, there’s a disparity of care delivery that impacts amputations. This disparity seems to inordinately impact some of our less fortunate socioeconomic populations. Low-income Hispanic and African American populations have a higher incidence of being initially treated with amputation versus attempts at limb healing and preservation.
As a surgeon interested in education and research, I have always believed it’s important to advance techniques and improve outcomes. But I am also strongly motivated in this field by connecting with my patients—striving to not only save their limbs but to also make sure they can remain independent and maintain their quality of life. Recently, I had a patient, a 75-year-old woman from Jamaica. She has diabetes and had already had other vascular treatments, including angioplasty, by the time she came to my office. She had been told nothing else could be done and she needed to undergo leg amputations. We were able to perform successful bypasses on both her legs, and just recently she was in my office for a follow-up. With tears in her eyes, she told me that because we saved her legs, she’d be able to go to Jamaica for a 50 th anniversary family reunion, and that just meant so much to her. And it meant so much to me, too. Not only did we save her limb, but that also means she gets to stay mobile, live by herself and be independent. I’ve done thousands of surgeries at this point in my career, and while I love the technical aspect of it, it’s stories of patients like her that I live for.
Dr. Perry K. Richardson
Neurology, The GW Medical Faculty Associates
Neurology and the healing arts conjoin in unexpected ways. Imagine my surprise when I entered the exam room to find a patient and his guitar. Mine was the first formal neurological consultation, though a different neurologist astutely noticed the dystonia that rendered his dominant hand almost useless.
His recital was my examination. I watched his fingers splay and wobble as he attempted to play notes, sabotaged by a bedeviling programming glitch in his brain.
His malady, focal dystonia, has disabled writers, musicians, athletes and others. It is the cause of writer’s cramp, which for years was thought to be a psychological condition, akin to “writer’s block.” This prejudice was countered by the official designation “organic writer’s cramp,” after researchers found involuntary co-contraction of competing muscles as its basis.
He was a TV celebrity and composer in his home country for years, delighting audiences with his “baladas romanticas.” Bolero sprung from his skilled hands after practicing assiduously to perfect runs up and down the fingerboard. He emulated Luiz Bonfá and Baden Powell. Then, playing, writing and typing were hobbled for 30 years by what doctors called arthritis. But there was no pill, no exercise, no counseling for this plight. It manifested at first exclusively and eerily only while playing guitar. It was as if the constant repetition and intricacy of fingering stymied and then short-circuited the neurons responsible for the proper execution of hand use. Unfair in its harshness, it later impaired even daily manual tasks like writing and buttoning.
We chatted about our musical heroes, Tom Jobim, João Gilberto and Celia Cruz (“¡Azúcar!”), as I planned out the target muscles for the treatment: injections of botulinum toxin, one of the strongest poisons on the planet. The goal was to relax the unwanted spasms so that the movement sequences could allow his musical ideas to bloom. Music, his upended lifelong passion, was restored, precision returning to his fingers.
I am often moved by the role I play in people’s lives. I feel immense reward in helping untangle neural knots. In this case I feel I helped bring back two entities—the craft of his hand and the purpose of his trusted guitar.
This story originally ran in our February issue . For more stories like this, subscribe to our monthly magazine.
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British Council India
6 inspiring stories to celebrate doctor's day.
July 1 marks Doctors’ day in India to recognise and celebrate the valuable contribution made by doctors in the community. Their role has become even more crucial during the present day as the world is battling the Covid-19 pandemic, with the doctors and medical workers at the fore front.
The difference made by doctors in our individual lives is hard to quantify. Let’s celebrate it together with these movies and audio books from our online library:
1. Her Favourite Patient (Movie)
A beautiful female doctor visits her small hometown on her way back to Chicago. Her overworked uncle, who is the town's doctor, wants her to stay and help him, and he and a macho test pilot who's fallen for her come up with a plan that involves the pilot faking an illness and being treated by her, with her uncle's "help"
2. A Day Without Cancer (Movie)
Produced in association with The Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto, the film gives an overview of where we stand in the fight against cancer through interviews with researchers, patients, doctors and those in the forefront of fundraising. Princess Margaret is one of the top five cancer hospitals in the world.
3. Beyond the Soul (Movie)
‘Beyond the Soul’ tells the story of an American physician, Dr. Lewis, who travels to India in search of a cure for his patient's fatal and mysterious illness. The physician's quest leads him to the Acharya - a human fount of traditional knowledge and mysticism - whose humbling explanations confound the doctor's scientific and rational mind. And then, the visions begin and Dr Lewis is led beyond his reasoning and beliefs into himself. It's a journey of the human soul - a journey as inconceivably startling as it is enlightening.
4. Holiday SOS - The Life-Saving Adventures of a Travelling Doctor (Audio Book)
Doctor Ben MacFarlane flies around the world picking up the pieces when Britons get into trouble abroad. A must-read for anyone who enjoys real-life stories. Who do you call if it all goes wrong on holiday? Meet Doctor Ben MacFarlane – a very modern flying doctor. His job is to get on a plane and bring patients home after holiday disasters, gap year crises, embarrassing incidents on business trips and all the other things that can go wrong when we head overseas. Holiday SOS is his extraordinary story. It’s a unique medical memoir of the people he helps - and a year in the life of one of the world’s most frequent flyers! “Will have you engrossed” - SUNDAY HERALD. “This book is packed with tales of derring-do ... a riveting read.” THE INDEPENDENT.
5. There A Doctor Here? (Audio Book)
The two bestselling memoirs (London Call-Out and Doctor In The House) from London GP Alex Rudd, brought together in one hilarious and touching box set. A man who has injured himself trying out his girlfriend's waxing treatment. The inimitable curiosity of a boy whose cactus has left his hand in a mess. More Googled self-diagnoses than one can count. These are the cases that Rudd faces daily. As hilarious as they are poignant, the memoirs showcase some of the most baffling, as well as heart-breaking, stories that any doctor and their patients have had to experience. Alex Rudd is a GP who now works as a locum in a variety of surgeries in London and the rest of the country. His name has been changed to protect the identity of his patients and colleagues.
6. The Good Doctor of Warsaw (Audio Book)
Deeply in love and about to marry, students Misha and Sophia flee from Warsaw, under Nazi occupation, for a chance at freedom. Forced to return to the Warsaw ghetto they help Misha's mentor, Dr Korczak, care for the two hundred children in his orphanage. As the noose tightens around the ghetto, Misha and Sophia are torn from one another, forcing them to face their worst fears alone. Meanwhile, refusing to leave the children unprotected, Korczak must confront a terrible darkness.
HCA Healthcare Today
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“Life has a whole new meaning”: 10 inspiring COVID-19 patient stories
No two cases of COVID-19 seem to be the same. Some patients have short hospital stays while others battle for months on end, experiencing intubation and long periods away from family and friends. For HCA Healthcare colleagues, each and every unique patient recovery is a victory. And in a year filled with challenges, these moments of celebration, when hospital care teams were able to cheer on patients as they reunited with loved ones and headed home, were an inspiration for all of us.
As of December 2020, HCA Healthcare affiliate hospitals have cared for more than 80,000 COVID-19 inpatients. The fight is not over, but we take this moment to reflect on a few of our most memorable COVID-19 patient stories and celebrate their recovery. And thank you to all of our frontline colleagues for making these stories possible.
Travis Groves (TriStar Skyline Medical Center, Tennessee)
As avid dancer Travis Groves , 81, recovered from COVID-19 at TriStar Skyline Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, occupational therapist Meg Gegen decided to use dance to help him regain his strength. After the two started dancing the two step together, Travis went from not having enough energy to sit on the edge of his hospital bed to dancing through entire songs. When Travis was discharged, Meg came in on her day off for one final dance to Billy Ray Cyrus’ “Achy Breaky Heart.” Their moves even made it on Daily Mail TV .
See more of Travis’ story from Nashville’s WSMV .
Jason Jahanian (The Medical Center of Aurora, Colorado)
Jason Jahanian was “the epitome of health,” his wife, Michelle, said in an interview with Colorado Public Radio . He had even recently run/walked 40 miles for his 40th birthday. But in April, he was hospitalized at Sky Ridge Medical Center in Lone Tree, Colorado, with COVID-19. After a couple of days, he was put on a ventilator and eventually transferred to The Medical Center of Aurora , where doctors also placed him on ECMO. Later, doctors decided to try convalescent plasma and an experimental drug. Jason’s condition began to improve and he woke up after being unconscious for almost two weeks. Roughly a month after first being hospitalized, he was able to go home — but not before an emotional farewell with the hospital team.
“Life has a whole new meaning, walking outside has a whole new meaning, rolling down the window has a new meaning,” Jason said .
Hear more from Jason in this “Live with Kelly and Ryan” interview .
Raul Perez (Kendall Regional Medical Center, Florida)
Early in the pandemic, our healthcare heroes in Miami helped another local hero recover from coronavirus. Firefighter Raul Perez spent 11 days at Kendall Regional Medical Center after testing positive for COVID-19. When Raul began to feel the physical and mental effects of the virus, his fire family showed up to support him — even if from a distance. Raul’s coworkers from Miami-Dade Fire Rescue used the ladder on a firetruck to climb up and see Raul through his fourth-floor hospital window.
“To see them literally do that and for them to climb all the way to the top of that ladder just to see me, it’s hard to explain but it was the most heartwarming experience of my life,” Raul told NBC Miami .
Of the team at Kendall, Raul said, “They’re miracle workers. All the nurses, all the doctors did a great job there. The medications I was on helped tremendously and I owe them my life.”
Esther (Methodist Hospital, Texas)
Esther spent eight weeks fighting COVID-19 at Methodist Hospital in San Antonio, Texas. When her caregivers noticed a decline in her health, they decided to create a TikTok video of themselves dancing to her favorite boy band, BTS. The video went viral and thousands of BTS fans from around the world sent messages of hope using the #EncourageEsther hashtag. After her care team started posting some of the messages in her room, Esther’s health took a turn for the better and she was eventually removed from life support. Hospital officials told KSAT she had “a spark in her eyes and glow in her heart they hadn’t seen from her in weeks.”
Watch Esther’s story on Facebook .
Maggie Sillero (The Woman’s Hospital of Texas, Texas)
For mothers around the world, their birth experience looked very different than planned in 2020. That was certainly true for Maggie Sillero , who upon arriving at The Woman’s Hospital of Texas in Houston for her scheduled admission to the antepartum unit in May tested positive for COVID-19. She was 28 weeks pregnant with triplets. About a month later, she received two negative COVID tests, but learned that one of her baby’s cords was wrapped around her neck and Maggie would need to have an emergency C-section that day. With her husband also testing positive for coronavirus, Maggie was supported in person by her mother and the hospital’s incredible nurses as she welcomed Isabella, Nathaniel and Adriel into the world. All three babies were safe and healthy and continued to get stronger in the Level II NICU.
Meet Maggie and her babies in these articles and videos from Good Morning America , ABC News and CNN .
Jessica Rowlett (TriStar Centennial Medical Center, Tennessee)
COVID-19 patient Jessica Rowlett delivered her son via emergency C-section after she was placed on a ventilator at TriStar Centennial Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. Baby Rowdy was born at 33 weeks in mid-May and spent time in the NICU. After the delivery, Jessica had to be placed on an ECMO machine and did not see her son until a month after his birth. Registered nurse Mary Shea told Good Morning America that “it was pretty incredible to see all that she went through and how strong she was and how poised she was through the entire process.” Both Jessica and son Rowdy were able to go home on the same day, June 26.
Shakell Avery (Menorah Medical Center, Kansas)
This summer, 24-year-old Shakell Avery battled coronavirus at Menorah Medical Center in Overland Park, Kansas. He became so critically ill that he would need to be sedated and put on a ventilator in the ICU, and the hospital would eventually need to partner with sister facility Research Medical Center in Kansas City, Missouri, to transfuse him with convalescent plasma. Shakell was one of the first patients in the Kansas City area to receive convalescent plasma, which came from a recovered patient in New York. After 76 days, Shakell was able to go home, but he would soon return — wearing an “I Beat COVID-19” shirt — to say thank you to his care team.
“I was more than grateful,” Shakell told CNN . “I could have said ‘thank you’ an infinite amount of times, and it wouldn’t have matched the intensity of how grateful I was.”
Watch the reunion on The Kansas City Star .
Lloyd Falk (Henrico Doctors’ Hospital, Virginia)
One of the year’s most inspiring stories was that of Lloyd Falk , a 100-year-old World War II veteran who battled coronavirus for 58 days at Henrico Doctors’ Hospital in Richmond, Virginia. Sadly, Lloyd’s wife of 74 years passed away from the virus weeks before he was discharged. On that day, hospital caregivers lined the hallways and cheered Lloyd on while also honoring his late wife.
Read more about Lloyd from Fox News and watch this video from ABC News .
Henry Bell (Orange Park Medical Center, Florida)
When Henry Bell woke up after spending weeks sedated in the ICU at Orange Park Medical Center in Florida, there was only one thing he wanted to do: marry the love of his life, Antionette Brown. Neither of them wanted to wait any longer, so they decided to get married on Nov. 5 outside the hospital’s rehab center, surrounded by the doctors and nurses who had saved Henry’s life.
“There was no better place to get married,” Antionette told CNN . “The staff was wonderful. They had become my family and I wanted family there.”
Paola Castillo (Medical City North Hills, Texas)
Paola Castillo, 24, spent 79 days at Medical City North Hills in North Richland Hills, Texas. After a month in the ICU and on a ventilator, Paola had to relearn how to talk, swallow and walk. The hospital told CBS News she was close to death and called her a “miracle” patient. On day 67, Paola’s caregivers took her outside to feel the rain after so much time inside. Almost two weeks later, colleagues cheered for Paola as she left the hospital.
Learn more about Paola from CNN and watch her go home on Facebook .
At HCA Healthcare, we are driven by a single mission: Above all else, we are committed to the care and improvement of human life. As we embark on a new year, we thank our patients for the trust you have placed in us to fulfill our mission. We recognize the immense responsibility that comes with that trust.
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About HCA Healthcare
HCA Healthcare, one of the nation's leading providers of healthcare services, is comprised of 182 hospitals and more than 2,300 sites of care, in 20 states and the United Kingdom. Our more than 283,000 colleagues are connected by a single purpose — to give patients healthier tomorrows.
As an enterprise, we recognize the significant responsibility we have as a leading healthcare provider within each of the communities we serve, as well as the opportunity we have to improve the lives of the patients for whom we are entrusted to care. Through the compassion, knowledge and skill of our caregivers, and our ability to leverage our scale and innovative capabilities, HCA Healthcare is in a unique position to play a leading role in the transformation of care.
HCA Healthcare Hope Fund assists more than 51,000 colleagues and their families
Up to the challenge: A doctor’s story of sacrifice and healing
March 22, 2017 by Lesley Reed
Through wars and epidemics, Dr. Jean-Claude Kiluba has saved thousands of lives in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Dr. Jean-Claude Kiluba is beloved for serving his community and saving lives for more than two decades. Photo: PATH/Georgina Goodwin.
Dr. Jean-Claude Kiluba holds up five fingers. He wants to make sure I understand just how young he was when he was sent from his village in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to a boarding school two hours away. “I was five!” he exclaims. “ Cinq ans !”
“Were you scared?” I ask.
“No! I wanted to study.”
It’s easy to picture little Jean-Claude striding off to school wearing a new uniform and a big grin. Watching him confer with fellow physicians, counsel sex workers, and laugh with new mothers, he seems to belong everywhere and to everyone.
Jean-Claude has led PATH’s work in Haut-Katanga Province, in the southeast corner of the DRC, for the past eight years. But he’s been serving—and saving the lives of—the region’s people for 20 years, through poverty, epidemics, and war.
When the second choice becomes the best choice
“I like challenges,” says Jean-Claude.
As a child Jean-Claude wanted to be a pilot, but that meant studying abroad, something his family couldn’t afford. His solution? “I went to the university and I asked, ‘What is the faculty or department that is very hard and the rate of failure is high?’ I was told medicine . . . That is why I went to study medicine.”
Medical school in the DRC was rigorous. Only five of the 648 students in his first year went on to become doctors.
But Jean-Claude thrived. “As I began to study medicine, I concluded that it was the best study I’ve chosen,” he says. “I loved it, especially when I was saving life.”
In 2000, Jean-Claude became the director of Kenya General Hospital in Lubumbashi, DRC’s second largest city. To the north of the city raged what’s been dubbed Africa’s “First World War.” Nine countries were involved in DRC’s civil war, and more than 5.4 million people lost their lives to violence, malnutrition, or disease.
No one in the DRC was immune. “When the war occurred, my family was separated,” Jean-Claude shares. “My mother hid in the bush, and she got ill. Without care, she died alone.”
The surgery ward at Kenya General Hospital where Jean-Claude operated on more than 1,000 people. Photo: PATH/Georgina Goodwin.
Refugees from the war flooded his hospital. Jean-Claude had only two other doctors, few supplies, and almost no money. Over the course of a decade, he performed lifesaving surgeries on more than 1,000 people.
He says, “I learned that leading a general hospital like this, you must make sacrifice in life.”
He shares the story of parents who brought in a child with severe anemia caused by malaria. “Without a transfusion, within an hour and a half, the baby could die. I went to the laboratory to ask for blood for my patient for the surgery. We did the blood transfusion and saved that life, but after, the parents could not pay. It is very, very difficult to abandon someone who is suffering because he doesn’t have money.”
He adds, “I could operate for free, but I couldn’t do it without the gloves, without anesthesia, without blood or sutures.”
So Jean-Claude devised creative solutions. He asked for blood donations from surgery patients who didn’t need transfusions and saved it for those who did. He added a little onto the price of prenatal consultations and put it into a fund to cover emergency cesareans.
“I concluded that health services should be free for everyone,” he says.
Why are the patients dying?
Meanwhile, Jean-Claude and his staff were facing a new challenge. Kenya General Hospital was known for being the best place to get care for tuberculosis (TB) , but many TB patients were dying despite their care.
“At the time, we didn’t know that they had TB with HIV , because there was no test, no cure, no treatment for HIV, and we didn’t have training,” says Jean-Claude. “We lost many lives. Many lives.”
Jean-Claude and his fellow health workers in the DRC are slowly rebuilding the country’s health systems so no one dies without care from a treatable disease. Photo: PATH/Georgina Goodwin.
In a stroke of good fortune, a team from the prestigious Belgium Institute for Tropical Medicine visited Kenya Hospital. After witnessing Jean-Claude’s struggles and his resourcefulness, they offered him a scholarship to study at the institute. He earned his master’s in Public Health with a focus on HIV.
“Many Congolese who get the opportunity to study abroad don’t always come back,” says Trad Hatton, PATH’s country director for the DRC. “But Jean-Claude never hesitated. He brought this world-class education back to the DRC. It’s another testament to how dedicated he is to his country.”
A hospital transformed
Once Jean-Claude returned, Kenya General Hospital developed a new reputation. Says Jean-Claude, “The story was spread everywhere that in this hospital they are taking care for treatment for TB and HIV. That is why you can find so many people coming here from elsewhere.”
His reputation also reached PATH. In 2009, we hired Jean-Claude to lead the US Agency for International Development’s (USAID’s) flagship HIV project in Haut-Katanga Province. Through the project, called ProVIC plus, he continued to transform Kenya General Hospital—and many others in the area—into models for clinical HIV care.
Under his leadership, the project integrated HIV testing, care, and treatment in more than 100 health facilities, in many cases introducing HIV/AIDS interventions and treatment for the first time.
One of those was Sendwe General Hospital. “We used to have people dying every few days,” says Dr. Joe Kabongo, the hospital’s director. “But with the help of Jean-Claude, we are really improving.”
Jean-Claude oversaw a program to prevent the transmission of HIV from mothers to their babies that is so successful that HIV-infected infants are now extremely rare. He also integrated maternal and newborn health services to protect moms and babies from other threats.
And just as Jean-Claude wanted, HIV care and treatment are free for patients enrolled through the program.
How to end HIV
Free treatment is not only about keeping people alive—it’s about stopping the epidemic. Sustained treatment with antiretrovirals suppresses people’s viral load so they can’t spread HIV to others.
That’s why Jean-Claude and his team recruited and trained members of key populations—sex workers, men who have sex with men, young women—to be peer educators. They act as evangelists for HIV testing and treatment.
“Jean-Claude is one of the rare people who understand the full picture of HIV.”
“Jean-Claude is one of the rare people who understand the full picture of HIV,” says Trad. “He understands what needs to happen in the hospitals and in the streets where people live. The success of this project lays at the feet of his leadership, his passion to save lives, his ability to mobilize people.”
Now Jean-Claude has been appointed to head the PATH-led, USAID-funded Integrated HIV/AIDS Program for Haut-Katanga and the neighboring province of Lualaba. The project aims to bring the HIV epidemic under control in 16 health zones that cover a population of 3.5 million people by using many of the strategies that Jean-Claude and his staff have so successfully developed and deployed.
“When the day comes and we’ve ended the HIV epidemic in Haut-Katanga Province,” says Trad, “I hope that people will remember the role that Jean-Claude played. I know it’s a big one.”
17 Inspiring Health Stories That Made The World Seem A Little Less Terrible
A lot of things in 2018 were terrible. These inspiring health-related stories are not.
BuzzFeed News Reporter
Certain stories made us feel pretty good this year.
Some stories were about children or adults who overcame cancer or physical or mental illness, who are now living their best life despite these challenges.
Others were about people who had a birth or breastfeeding experience that we found pretty inspiring.
The world is a difficult place to be in sometimes. These were some inspiring stories of people who faced health problems or challenges, had a cool life experience, or underwent groundbreaking surgery, which made us feel a little bit better about being in this world.
1. Batkid was declared cancer-free.
Miles Scott stole everyone's heart as a 5-year-old leukemia patient who took over San Francisco in 2013 as Batkid after he told the Make-A-Wish Foundation that he wanted to be Batman . People crowded the streets to cheer him on after San Francisco was turned into Gotham for a day with the help of late mayor Ed Lee and 20,000 volunteers. This year, the foundation announced that Miles, now 10, has been in remission for five years. This is an important milestone when many people can be considered as likely to be cancer-free.
2. This nurse realized that the last time she met her new coworker doctor was when she cared for him years ago as a preemie.
Brandon Seminatore is a pediatric resident in California and ended up working at the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in Palo Alto, the same hospital where he was born decades earlier.
A preemie (he was born at 29 weeks of gestation, while a full-term pregnancy is around 40 weeks), he spent more than a month in the neonatal intensive care unit.
A nurse named Vilma Wong, who had worked at the hospital for 32 years, thought his name sounded familiar.
“To confirm, I asked him if his dad was a police officer, and there was a big silence. And then he asked me if I was Vilma. I said yes,” Wong said.
Seminatore was impressed with Wong's dedication and love for her patients, so much so that she remembered the family decades later. They both hope their story lifts up parents who are undergoing a difficult time and have babies in a newborn intensive care unit.
3. This little girl with big, beautiful eyes.
Mehlani lives in Minnesota, and her mom, Karina Martinez, is often stopped by strangers who comment on the toddler's big, beautiful eyes . The little girl has Axenfeld-Rieger syndrome , a genetic condition that can cause eye abnormalities and increase the risk of glaucoma, a sight-robbing condition.
Martinez tweeted about her daughter's condition this year, and the tweets went viral. After that, parents of other children with the condition reached out to her, which has been helpful.
"People are super nice and just letting me know if I had any questions I could ask them," she told BuzzFeed News.
4. This woman walked with the help of an epidural stimulator implanted in her spine.
This year was an exciting one when it came to research into treatments for spinal cord injuries that have caused complete paralysis from the chest or waist down. Once told there was no hope they could ever walk again, a handful of paralyzed patients had a treatment — an epidural stimulator implanted in the spine — that seemed to offer a more hopeful prognosis, as reported by at least three separate research teams.
After months of arduous training after the epidural stimulators were put into place, the patients have been able to recover at least some ability to take steps — and, in one woman's case, actually use a walker instead of a wheelchair, at least some of the time while at home.
Kelly Thomas of Citrus County, Florida, had the implant and training, and can now switch on the device and use a walker to stand and take steps around her home.
“I don’t want people to think you just turn it on and you are good to go — that’s not the case. It takes hours and hours and hours of dedication,” she told BuzzFeed News. “It’s not for the faint of heart … There are days you just want to cry and quit.”
The research teams working on this include the Kentucky Spinal Cord Research Center at the University of Louisville , which pioneered the technique; a team at University of California Los Angeles and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, as well as one at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, Switzerland.
5. This little girl taught the world about a rare genetic syndrome.
Taylor McGowan was born with uncombable hair syndrome , and that's a real and very rare genetic condition.
She has two copies of a gene — one inherited from each parent — that changes the shape of the hair shaft and causes fine hair that often stands up straight around her head. Her parents sent blood samples to Regina Betz at the University of Bonn, who has published research on the condition, which is also called "spun glass hair syndrome ."
Taylor definitely has the condition, and her parents are carriers. Some people have pointed and laughed at Taylor's hair, her mom, Cara McGowan, told BuzzFeed News. The family is hoping to raise awareness of the condition, and encourage more tolerance of unique characteristics in general, she said.
6. This woman embraced her body, which at one point in her life was a source of depression.
Lorena Bolaños was born with a large congenital nevus , a mole that covers a large portion of her body. As a child, classmates made fun of her and adults thought it was an illness that could make other people sick.
Bolaños had a photo shoot as part of Underneath We Are Women , a project that showcases women of all body types.
"My objective is that everybody needs to understand that self-acceptance is the first step to achieve happiness," Bolaños told BuzzFeed News.
7. This mom discovered her baby had Down syndrome during an emotional water birth.
Amber Rojas said that she knew almost right away that her baby, a little girl named Amadeus Reign Rojas (or Ami as her family calls her), had Down syndrome. The entire family, including Amber's husband Fernando and the couple's four other children, were present during the moving water birth , along with their birth photographer.
Ami was also born with a heart defect that is common in children with Down syndrome, but after a challenging start with heart surgery and a respiratory infection that landed her in the hospital, Ami is doing well. (Follow her on Instagram to see how Ami is doing.)
8. An unidentified veteran had the first penis and scrotum transplant.
This year, an unidentified US veteran, who was injured in Afghanistan, underwent the world's first penis and scrotum transplant .
Although there have been at least three penis transplants, this was the first to use so much tissue and to include the scrotum, according to the team that performed the transplant at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.
9. This mom saw her baby being born through a clear plastic drape during a cesarean section.
Allison and Brent live in Madison, Alabama, and found out during the 20th week of pregnancy that Alison had placenta previa. That's a condition where the placenta covers the opening of the cervix, increasing the risk of bleeding or rupture of the placenta during labor.
They knew that Alison needed to have a cesarean section, but the couple wanted to have a "gentle cesarean" or "family-centered cesarean" if possible. That's an approach that incorporates as many elements of a vaginal birth — like seeing the baby as soon as it's born — into a cesarean birth as possible.
So they requested using a clear drape during the delivery , a method in which the surgical drape is lowered just before the baby is born, so the parents can witness the birth.
Because of the angle of the drapes, if you are giving birth you can't really see the surgical incision. "It’s not a gory thing," Allison told BuzzFeed News. "You don’t actually watch the procedure or them do the incision."
They had a baby boy via cesarean section March 2. "All you see is your baby," said Allison. "It's pretty special."
10. A little girl born without legs was a true "warrior queen" in this photo shoot.
La'Mareea Waddell was born with caudal regression syndrome , a rare condition in which the bones of the lower spine and legs are missing or may be malformed.
La'Mareea lives in Junction City, Ohio. This year her mom, Angela Neal, reached out to Lancaster, Ohio–based Elegant Ele Fine Art Photography and Design , which had put out a call for models. Neal wanted to know if La'Mareea's condition would preclude her from being in a photo shoot. In fact, the photographer, "thought it was really cool that La'Mareea was different," Neal said.
The images were so fierce, the photographer called her the "warrior queen," and if you check out the images from La'Mareea's photo shoot you will see that name is entirely accurate.
11. This 26-year-old man had one of the fastest recoveries from a face transplant yet.
Cameron Underwood of Yuba City, California, had a face transplant in January, about 18 months after he was injured from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. A 100-person medical team at NYU Langone made it possible, including his surgeon, Dr. Eduardo D. Rodriguez.
Underwood had a relatively quick recovery, due in part to his good physical health and his dedication to recovery, Rodriguez told BuzzFeed News. Underwood also underwent an extensive psychological evaluation before having the procedure.
"People that have gone through or are going through the same kind of mental illness that I went through: There is help out there," Underwood told BuzzFeed News. "Ultimately you want to check it before it gets to my stage, but just talk to somebody, even friends or family. It might be difficult but it’s worth it."
12. This model breastfed while walking the runway .
Mara Martin is one of 16 finalists chosen from a model search for Sports Illustrated's Miami fashion show. She decided to take her breastfeeding 5-month-old along with her on the catwalk.
And I think we can all agree, that's pretty badass. Rock on, mama.
13. This adorable 6-year-old was all of us going for a run.
Evelyn is 6, lives in Kansas, and asked her big sister, Sirena Salazar, if she could go on a run with her.
Evelyn quickly found her run more challenging than she thought and wondered why her heart was beating so fast. She said she felt like her "heart is crying."
Salazar tweeted about it, and it went viral, because, well, it's extremely relatable. She recovered from her run, and we're hoping she gives it another try in 2019.
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14. this mom breastfed at her hockey game , demonstrating yet again that breastfeeding is totally cool and normal thing to do..
This is a sweet little story that people who love hockey and breastfeeding (meaning everyone) will like.
Serah Small is a hockey player who lives in Grande Prairie, Alberta, in Canada, who felt her milk come in while playing. She fed her 8-week-old in the locker room between periods, because, you know, babies get hungry. Milky Way Lactation Services shared the photo.
"Being a mom is absolutely amazing, and I'm so happy I got to do something I absolutely love while still meeting my baby's needs," Small told Milky Way. "Our bodies are amazing, and this weekend was the first time I truly appreciated mine."
15. This teen turned to the internet for help for her autistic brother's hard-to-treat acne related to his medication .
Callie Ross-Smith is a college student in Chico, California, and has a younger autistic brother, Alec. He's nonverbal and takes medication that has caused him to have painful acne for years. She posted in /r/SkincareAddiction on Reddit asking for help.
People immediately asked questions and offered solutions. Ross-Smith said she was blown away by the response and came up with a new routine to help her brother's skin. She hopes that people will be better able to see him for who he really is.
“I want to see in the long run if his acne improves, if people see him more," she said.
16. These twins immediately stopped crying as soon as they touched each other again .
Weston and Caleb Lyman were born in February 2018 and pretty much became internet-famous right away. That's because as soon as they were born, they were separated to be weighed, and they started crying, as newborns sometimes do.
But what happened next was pretty special. In a video their dad, Dane Lyman , posted to Facebook, the twins immediately stopped crying as soon as they touched each other again.
It's pretty sweet. We recommend watching it whenever you think the world is terrible.
17. This 27-year-old died of cancer but wrote a letter so moving , she helped many other people learn how to live every day.
In January, 27-year-old Holly Butcher posted a list of life lessons to Facebook a day before she died of cancer. Butcher lived in Grafton, New South Wales, Australia, and had Ewing sarcoma , a rare type of bone or soft tissue cancer that mostly affects younger people. The letter was shared nearly 170,000 times.
You should read Holly's letter in its entirety , but in it she talks about loving your body, living in the moment, and recognizing what's really meaningful in life.
"I just want people to stop worrying so much about the small, meaningless stresses in life and try to remember that we all have the same fate after it all," she wrote, "so do what you can to make your time feel worthy and great, minus the bullshit."
Ed Lee’s name and the name of Yuba City, California, were misstated in an earlier version of this post.
Theresa Tamkins is a health editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Theresa Tamkins at [email protected] .
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Physicians share heartfelt stories for Doctors Day
Physicians touch the lives of many patients. And inevitably, patients touch their lives, too.
For Doctors Day, which we celebrate on Saturday this year, we reached out to the physicians who serve on our medical staff. We asked them about the rewards and challenges of working in the profession. We asked what they wish everyone knew about their work. And we asked them about their patients. As one physician writes, “In many respects, they help me as much as I help them.”
We hope you’ll take a few minutes to read their heartfelt responses below.
Sandra Brown, MD, Gynecology and Infertility
“I think the thing that most people don’t realize about doctors is that the problems of our patients we see go home with us at the end of the day. A physician doesn’t ever really have a day or an evening off. Some problem is always in the back of our minds because we care so much about our patients.”
“I am fortunate to have spent more than 30 years as a family physician in this community. I am much closer to the end of my career than I am to the beginning of it. My practice is made up largely of people that I have taken care of for more than two decades. I have been with these people through intense situations. I have been relied upon to diagnose, treat and teach about many illnesses. I have been able to manage deliveries of hundreds of babies, most of which were routine and simple, but some of which were complicated and frightening. I have provided well care to children and adults, but I also have been involved with the care of serious illnesses and unexpected tragedies. Through it all, my reward has been the sense that people have felt that I made a difference for them in the process. It is gratifying to be able to serve people in a capacity such as this, where trust and confidence are at a premium. I am appreciative of every patient that has ever given me the opportunity to serve them, even if only for one visit and even if it turned out that I was not the right match for them.
“It is not uncommon at this point in my career for patients to ask me about my plans for retirement. In recent weeks, I have had several patients tell me that they are not looking forward to having to find another physician when I retire. Fortunately, I feel that I still have a lot of good years ahead of me. I look forward to the next decade of challenges as a family physician in our community, and I appreciate all of the trust and confidence that I have been shown along the way. Additionally, I am thankful for all of the nurses, medical assistants, therapists, clerical staff, administrators and physician colleagues that have facilitated my efforts along the way.”
“Working in the emergency department presents new and difficult challenges on a daily basis. Beyond the medical challenges, we face great social challenges. It is very easy to become frustrated with the patient that comes in on an everyday basis for what seems like nothing to the medical staff. We want to tell them that they have no emergency and they are misusing and taking advantage of the system in place.
“What we need to do is realize that we are often the only positive thing in their lives. I like to learn their stories — where they came from, how they got to where they are now, and what their plan is for the future. Many of them are simply looking for someone to talk to. It takes so little from us to give them that little spark of hope. We are a doorway to other resources in the community that can help get them back on their feet.
“One of the greatest joys I get out of working in the ER is seeing that patient who has managed to turn things around, even if just for a little while. I’ve had patients that were near rock bottom who came back proud with their new child, a new job, or a new place to live. That same patient who created so much frustration in the past can come back with so much joy. The things we do for our patients can impact our community in so many ways. I wouldn’t give that up for anything.”
“The one thing most people don’t know about being a doctor is that we are full-time students. Even after we graduate from medical school, residency, and sometimes fellowships, we are not done learning. There’s a saying: ‘Fifty percent of what we learn in medical school will be wrong or obsolete in 10 years.’ As the field of medicine and the knowledge evolves, so do we as physicians. This is also why we sub-specialize; it is impossible for one physician to know everything. Even after the visit with the patient ends, and the documentation is complete, we spend many hours weekly reading the latest information, attend conferences and undergo board renewal exams just to stay current.”
“The greatest challenge of working as a doctor is balancing work and life. And the greatest reward of working as a doctor is seeing the time you’ve spent helping a patient understand what is going on with them result in a change for the good in their quality of life.”
“Most areas of the country don’t have enough psychiatrists to meet the high and ever-growing demand for psychiatric services. It takes time to listen to each patient. I’m always trying to apply cutting-edge research for my patients’ care. It’s rewarding for me when I hear back from patients who survived their struggle with mental illness, and when they tell me ‘I got my life back’ or ‘The cloud was lifted’ or ‘I got my family back.’ People may not know that unlike other medical professions, the field of psychiatry involves caring for patients as well as their families. I also have the responsibility to work closely with members of the community and legislators as an advocate and advisor as we work to enhance mental health services for patients everywhere.”
“The greatest challenge of being a doctor is how I would like to be available all the time for my patients. Because I see children who are dealing with neurological problems, I feel like I need to be constantly following these patients and their progress. Unfortunately, it is not possible to be working every hour of the day and night. The greatest reward of being a doctor is when I help a patient feel better.”
“A few years back, I saw as a new patient, a 70-year-old woman who had recently moved to the area. She needed a new doctor and my office was close by. Her first appointment was rather unremarkable. She was healthy, but I had the obligatory discussion about her cholesterol, blood pressure and diet. Near the end, she asked if it was OK for her to have a can of beer on Tuesday nights. Tuesday was her bridge night and one of the other ladies drank a can of beer while playing. I thought about it briefly. I didn’t see any problem, so I told her, in my professional opinion, one can of beer was fine. She left happy and I thought about how simple life would be if all I had to do was recommend a beer for my patients. No formulary restrictions or prior authorizations to worry about. It would be the least expensive intervention I recommended all day. Compliance would be near 100 percent, and ALL my patients would leave happy.
“Over the next year or so, I ended up seeing several other ladies from the bridge club. Many even asked if I thought THEY could also have a can of beer on game night. After again, giving my stamp of approval, one woman thanked me. She said with all honesty that I was the best doctor she had ever been to, because I had brought such joy to the weekly bridge club. I never learned this part in medical school or residency, but I suppose being a good doctor means different things to different people.”
“The greatest challenge of working as a doctor is counseling patients when I do not have a solution to their problem. The greatest reward of working as a doctor is restoring function and relieving pain so my patients can live their lives to their fullest. Patients usually have been missing out on activities they enjoy for quite a while before they come to see me, either because they can’t do them or it just hurts too much. When they are able to do those things again, their whole demeanor and outlook on life changes. Watching that transformation is very rewarding.”
“One thing that most people probably don’t realize about physicians is that most of us are somewhat obsessive-compulsive and perfectionists. We strive to make sure we do everything correctly for a patient, and not miss or forget anything. The number of conditions we in primary care treat and work to prevent has increased dramatically in the last 10 to 20 years and adds to our daily workload.
“The greatest challenge in working as a physician is dealing with insurance companies. Multiple times per day, every day, they are trying to tell me how I should be treating my patients, not only initiating care, but often ongoing care that is doing just fine for the patient and me. It consumes a large piece of time for me and my staff that could be better spent caring for my patients.
“My most memorable experiences are when a patient tells me ‘You saved my life.’ I often respond that I was just doing my job, but it is humbling to know that as a physician I can do something like that. Also, it is very much appreciated when notes of thanks are sent. As in just about every profession, one only tends to hear the complaints.”
“While the profession demands that we as physicians maintain composure in the clinic, it is heart wrenching to see my patients suffer or to have to deliver unfortunate news. Easily, the most difficult part of my job, this is not an uncommon occurrence in the field of oncology nor is it an experience that you just leave behind at the office. That being said, I am inspired on a daily basis by the strength displayed by my patients and the grace with which they handle their difficult circumstances. In many respects, they help me as much as I help them.”
“There is no question that I feel that I have touched the lives of many of my patients and their families, but I always try to keep in mind that my relationship with my pediatric patients is bi-directional and this has allowed me to learn so much about myself. Sometimes the greatest gain is not necessarily in the successes that we have as providers, but in the ‘failures.’ The real question to ask is how do we define failure? For some, the answer might simply be a yes-no result: Did I diagnose correctly then treat accordingly and get the expected result? For me, the answer is not always so clear cut and is much deeper. Here’s an example…
“Years ago, I was called into the office on a weekend. A mother had given birth to her second son, and the family requested that I come to review the statements that the pediatrician currently working in the newborn nursery had made. After arriving at the unit, I was told that the baby looked like he had genetic problems. I performed my exam and spoke to the parents and told them that I disagreed with the initial assessment and did not feel that their son was ‘abnormal.’ Later, I received his initial genetic confirmation study that was normal, but over time, it was confirmed that the baby in fact did have something wrong. He demonstrated failure to thrive, decreased muscular tone, and other concerns. This began a two-year period in which I must have had the patient seen by every specialist that I could, and had every lab and MRI study performed that was available. His parents have since received a rare diagnosis for their son given by a specialist in the United Kingdom. The family and I remain friends to this day and they have never been anything but complementary toward me and my efforts to help them and their son.
“Something most people don’t realize about doctors, and maybe radiologists, specifically, is how much we care. I am a radiologist, so I often don’t have the chance of meeting my ‘patients.’ I read their X-rays, CT scans, mammograms and ultrasounds. I don’t know what color their hair is or the sound of their voice. However, I go to bed thinking about that poor young 41-year-old mother in whom I found breast cancer on a mammogram that day. Or the grandmother hit by a drunk driver whose CT scans I read that night. Or the premature infant with immature lungs who has a long uphill battle ahead, and how frightened her parents must be. I never get to meet these people, and most of them likely have no idea I exist. But I do think about them long after my shift is over as I am hugging my little ones and laying down at night.”
“Walking into the patient’s room, I see 10 family members, two of whom are middle-aged, colorfully dressed women sitting on the patient’s bed rubbing her hair, while the others stare at me suspiciously, wanting to know what will happen to their loved one, asking about her prognosis. Her gaunt and shriveled body lies on the hospital bed, her breathing is labored and she looks almost lifeless, pale, emaciated, with sunken eyes and dry skin.
“The patient and family members speak no English so we get an interpreter. My advice is to place a nasogastric feeding tube and start enteral nutrition; however, after intense discussions, they decide to send the patient to hospice. On day two of admission, the family meets with a hospice coordinator, and after about one hour, all questions are answered and concerns addressed. On the third day, equipment is delivered to the patient’s home.
“We are wrapping up arrangements to begin the discharge plan to home with hospice when my nurse calls me. ‘Dr. Sunday, the family has changed their mind. They want everything done. They want you to do all the tests necessary to make the patient better, to check if she has cancer, to place a nasogastric tube and to begin enteral tube feeding.’ At that moment, I feel a lot of emotions, anger, frustration and hopelessness about this change of plans. I know this means having to gather all the family members and use an interpreter again. I count to ten and my emotions simmer down.
“Four days have gone by, and the patient’s condition is deteriorating, so we order additional tests – chest X-ray, CT scan, and MRI, and draw more blood. The family arrives and the meeting begins, another round of discussions. I talk, they talk, the interpreter interprets, my pager beeps, my adrenaline level rises, and my frustration and anger are almost palpable. It is already 6 p.m. and I still have six more patients to see. Eventually, we arrive at a compromise. We will continue enteral feeding for two more days and see what happens.
“By 9 p.m., I finish rounding, and I pass by the patient’s room. My nurse motions to me to come in; the patient is dying, and as a few seconds go by, she expires with family members at the bedside. There is a long pause, then they begin to sing, sob and hug each other. Then they turn to me and my nurse, they hug us, thanking us for being so patient, caring, and compassionate. I naturally don’t cry easily, but this time, I cry and they comfort me, and they say, ‘Muchas gracias,’ which in Spanish, means ‘Many thanks to you.’ I console them and ask if they need anything and they say no. Then in my broken Spanish, I ask, ‘Esta?s contento?’ It means ‘Are you satisfied?’ to which they reply, ‘Si?.’ Then they burst out laughing at my broken Spanish. I begin to laugh, too, then I walk out with a big smile on my face, knowing I’ve done my duty with distinction. I have given my best.”
“The one thing that people forget about doctors is that we are human, too. We have families and emotions. We get sad when a patient passes away. We are happy for a patient’s success and improvement. We are expected to jump in and save the day at any time. We act as superhumans, but that means that we may be seen as having lost part of our humanity. Please remember that we are human, too. That makes all the effort mean more. We love our patients.”
“One of the greatest challenges for me as a doctor is to be part of death and dying discussions with the family. The death of a child is perhaps the worst life experience a parent and family goes through. No matter how many times I have done it, having conversations with the family about their child dying is never easy. I think it is one of the saddest parts of my job. All I can do during this time is to make the parents and family feel comfortable as much as I can and treat every child with respect and dignity.
“The greatest reward of being a pediatric critical care physician is the smile on a child’s face when he or she feels better. Their ‘back to baseline’ personality is always enjoyable to see. This can either be their goofy, silly, mischievous, playful, smiling self or one with a lot of spunk and attitude. All of this is a memorable experience for me. The joy and gratitude on the parents’ faces for helping their child get better is beyond words.”
“The thing most people don’t realize about doctors is that we are always learning, whether it’s from our patients or from the latest literature. Even when you think you’ve got it figured out, there’s always something new around the corner. This makes our profession exciting, challenging and humbling.”
I often come across this question “Why would anyone chose to become a doctor?” I don’t know why most doctors chose to become doctors, is it prestige, knowledge, money, desires to help people, desire for acknowledgments, parental pressure? I just know why I chose to become one. Human beings are extraordinary from all other creation. We have an innate need to be useful to others. We have the need to see that our existence is for the benefit for others and we crave this progress.
“Doctors are so lucky, we get to do this every day. As an OBGYN, I get to see a mother bursting with joy while lovingly holding her newborn after experiencing one of the greatest pains. After so many years of being in practice, witnessing moments like this never gets old. Why? Because the joy in her eyes is brand new, so I experience it over and over again. This is the ultimate path to happiness. We all live for the benefit for others, our community and ultimately humanity. Doctors are so lucky.”
Recent news and inspiring stories
COVID-19: 5 inspiring stories from the front lines
Doctors, nurses, and all other hospital employees are working around the clock to provide life-saving care to patients affected by COVID-19.
Read the inspiring stories of health care providers on the front lines.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic has required us all to make difficult adjustments, it has served as an important reminder of the life-saving care doctors, nurses, and other health care providers give every day — not just during public health crises.
Take a moment to read these five stories of hospital heroes on the front lines:
1. Newlywed Doctors Honeymoon in the Hospital
These two doctors planned to spend their honeymoon in Dubai and the Maldives — but that was before the COVID pandemic. Anxious to get back on the front lines, the two hospital heroes scrapped their lavish, two-day wedding plans in favor of a much smaller, socially-distanced ceremony at home. Twelve hours later, they were on their way back to their respective hospitals to care for patients affected by COVID.
Read their story here >>
2. Nurse Soothes Coworkers With Song
Ahead of another shift caring for COVID patients, the health care providers at St. Mary Mercy Livonia Hospital turned to Nurse Lori Marie Key for words of encouragement. She delivered — with a stirring rendition of “Amazing Grace.”
Hear her uplifting voice here >>
3. Front Line Health Care Providers Cheer On Recovering Patient
Hospital heroes may treat hundreds of patients every day, but that doesn’t stop them from celebrating every recovery. At East Alabama Medical Center , the medical team lined the hallway to give one COVID-19 patient a standing ovation as he was moved from the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) to a regular room.
See his moment of triumph here >>
4. Doctor Comes Out of Retirement to Fight COVID
Ahead of an anticipated surge in COVID cases, hospitals and health systems are looking for additional front line health care providers. That’s why many former doctors like 62-year-old Chuck Wright are coming out of retirement to lend a helping hand. Despite a higher risk of infection, Dr. Wright is working to serve patients in San Mateo County and Monterey County.
Learn more about this Hospital Hero’s journey >>
5. Messages of Thanks for Hospital Heroes
Doctors, nurses, and other front line health care providers across the country have found encouraging messages written in chalk outside the hospitals they work in. At New Orleans' Ochsner Medical Center , hospital heroes were welcomed with messages like “You are extraordinary” and “Thank you for what you’re about to do.”
Read them all here >>
While staying at home is currently the best way to help your community’s hospital heroes, people across the nation have been showing appreciation for health care providers on the front lines with #Solidarityat8 . Check out the hashtag to see what others are doing to honor hospital heroes every night at 8pm. Want to know how else you can get involved? Join us today >>
When Sarah tells her cancer patients she knows what they are going through, she means it. Read Sarah's Story
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In 2011, the town of Joplin, Missouri was devastated by an F5 tornado—the strongest imaginable. Watch the video
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Miracles and Moments of Grace: Inspiring Stories from Doctors Paperback – March 13, 2012
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- Print length 240 pages
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- Publisher : Leafwood Publishers (March 13, 2012)
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About the author
Nancy b. kennedy.
NOTE TO TEACHERS and HOMESCHOOLERS: To study the women's fight for the vote through my book, "Women Win the Vote: 19 for the 19th Amendment," download the free teachers guide on my website. Click on the "For Teachers" link on the landing page. https://www.nancybkennedy.com//for-teachers/
This year, our nation is celebrating the 100th anniversary of women gaining the vote with the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution. I have been privileged to participate in the celebration through my book, "Women Win the Vote! 19 for the 19th Amendment." It is forthcoming from Norton Young Readers, an imprint of W.W. Norton, with a release date of February 11, 2020.
For many years, I was a financial writer for magazines and newspapers, including the online Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, and for companies in the financial services industry, including Merrill Lynch. Earlier in my career, I was an editor for a daily newspaper in New Jersey, and later worked for Dow Jones, editing the Wall Street Journal and Barron's for its pioneering electronic news service, News/Retrieval. "Women Win the Vote!" is my eighth published book.
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February 6, 2023
The Youngest Doctors in History of Medicine: Inspiring Stories and Facts
Meet the youngest doctors in the history of medicine: Balamurali Ambati, Akrit Jaswal, and R. Venkataraman.
Learn about their inspiring stories and how they achieved the title of doctor at a young age.
The medical field is one of the most challenging and rewarding careers in the world. Becoming a doctor requires years of dedication, hard work, and a passion for helping others. However, some individuals have achieved this incredible feat at a young age, becoming the youngest doctors in the history of medicine. In this article, we will explore their inspiring stories and some fascinating facts about them.
The Youngest Doctors in History: Who Are They?
Throughout history, there have been many young individuals who have achieved the title of doctor at a young age. Some of the youngest doctors in history of medicine include:
Balamurali Ambati, who became a doctor at the age of 17 in 1995.
Akrit Jaswal, who became a doctor at the age of 7 in 2009.
R. Venkataraman, who became a doctor at the age of 18 in 1995.
The Youngest Doctor in the World: Balamurali Ambati
Dr. Balamurali Ambati is a well-known ophthalmologist who made history by becoming the youngest doctor in the world at the age of 17. He was born on July 29, 1977, in Vellore, India. Ambati completed his Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) degree from the Gandhi Medical College in Hyderabad, India. He then went on to complete his residency in ophthalmology at the University of Utah.
Youngest Doctor in India: Akrit Jaswal
Akrit Jaswal is a child prodigy from India who became a doctor at the age of 7. He was born on February 23, 1993, in Jalandhar, India. Jaswal is a self-taught doctor who learned anatomy and medical procedures by reading medical books and observing surgeries. He is now a practicing plastic surgeon in India.
Youngest Doctor in Tamil Nadu: R. Venkataraman
Dr. R. Venkataraman is another young doctor who made history in the medical field. He became the youngest doctor in Tamil Nadu, India, at the age of 18. Venkataraman completed his Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) degree from the Madras Medical College in Chennai, India. He is now a practicing physician in India.
Youngest Doctor in History of Medicine: Inspiring Stories
The stories of these young doctors are truly inspiring and demonstrate the power of determination and hard work. These young doctors faced many challenges and obstacles along the way, but their passion for helping others and their love for medicine kept them motivated. Their achievements serve as a reminder that anything is possible with hard work and dedication.
The Youngest Doctors in History of Medicine: 4 Facts
Here are some fascinating facts about the youngest doctors in history of medicine:
Balamurali Ambati is the youngest doctor in the world and holds a Guinness World Record for it.
Akrit Jaswal is a self-taught doctor who learned anatomy and medical procedures by reading medical books and observing surgeries.
R. Venkataraman became the youngest doctor in Tamil Nadu, India, at the age of 18.
These young doctors faced many challenges and obstacles along the way, but their passion for helping others and their love for medicine kept them motivated.
The stories of the youngest doctors in history of medicine are truly inspiring and demonstrate the power of determination and hard work. These young individuals have achieved something truly remarkable and have made a positive impact in the medical field. Their achievements serve as a reminder that anything is possible with hard work and dedication. The "the youngest doctors in history of medicine and facts about them" serve as a source of inspiration for future generations of young individuals who dream of becoming doctors.
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Powerful Stories Shared by Doctors and Nurses Fighting the Coronavirus Pandemic
Healthcare professionals who are bravely battling COVID-19 are sharing their own stories to inspire hope as they continue their fight
As citizens across the globe practice social distancing and self-isolate as they wait for the novel coronavirus to slow to a halt, healthcare professionals are risking their own lives to bravely battle COVID-19 every single day.
Since the United States has become the leading country for the most confirmed cases in the world , doctors and nurses from across the U.S. are sharing firsthand accounts from the frontlines, their most honest and raw feelings about working during the pandemic, and inspirational stories to offer insight into what their lives have been like during these uncertain times.
Here are their stories:
Nurse Shares Touching Photo of ‘Real Life’ in Quarantine
Kyle McBride, a registered nurse, husband and father of four, shared a photo of himself and his young child touching hands through a glass door. The moving image illustrates just how difficult and lonely it has been for nurses to continue their work while self-isolating from their families.
“This is my real life quarantine… since I’m an RN, my family and I have been separated for over a week and we have no clue when this will end,” he posted on Facebook on March 31. “I know we are all sacrificing in some way, but try to remember this picture the next time you are thinking of having a party, having people over, or going out unnecessarily. We ALL have a part… #Letsgetthisoverwith #Teamwork”
Surgeon Sends Sweet Yet Somber Note to Her Young Kids at Home
New York City-based surgeon Cornelia Grigg showcased the power of a mother’s love by tweeting a heart-wrenching message to her young kids.
On March 29, Griggs wrote , “My babies are too young to read this now. And they’d barely recognize me in my gear. But if they lose me to COVID I want them to know Mommy tried hard to do her job.”
Medical Director Details a Distressing ‘Day in the Life of an ER Doc’
Craig Spencer, the Director of Global Health in Emergency Medicine at New York-Presbyterian and Columbia University Medical Center, shared a candid twitter thread on March 24 that outlines the typical day of an ER doctor. It’s since gone viral.
The thread begins with a 6:30 a.m. wake-up time for his 8 a.m. shift. “There is a cacophony of cough,” he wrote of entering the ER. “You stop. Mask up. Walk in.” Spencer said nearly every patient — young and old — shows the same symptoms: “cough, shortness of breath, fever.” Before 10 a.m., two of his patients must be put on life support.
“For the rest of your shift, nearly every hour, you get paged,” he continued. “Stat notification: Very sick patient, short of breath, fever. Oxygen 88%, Stat notification: Low blood pressure, short of breath, low oxygen, Stat notification: Low oxygen, can’t breathe. Fever.” It’s that, “all day…”
Then before he goes home, he makes sure to wipe everything down — “drown it in bleach.” Once he gets home, “you strip in the hallway (it’s ok, your neighbors know what you do).”
“Everything in a bag, ” he added. “Your wife tries to keep your toddler away, but she hasn’t seen you in days, so it’s really hard.”
“Run to the shower,” he finished. “Rinse it all away. Never happier.”
Nurse Gets Candid About Work Fatigue and Stress Compounded by Racism Against the Asian Community
Ari T., a graduate nurse based in Philadelphia, aired her feelings about Asian American healthcare workers who are battling COVID-19 as well as an increase in racist attacks since the pandemic began.
“This is what your frontline healthcare worker looks like,” she wrote on March 24, alongside a photo of herself in head-to-toe protective equipment. “I’m tired and not just from the 150 potential COVID-19+ specimens we collected today. I’m tired because I keep seeing stories of Asian Americans attacked and harassed in the streets. I’m tired because I hear Trump refer to SARS-COV-2 as the ‘Chinese Virus’. I’m tired because my husband is worried about me using the train by myself to come volunteer due to the racism and xenophobia aimed at Asian faces.”
“Countless Asian American clinicians are working on the frontlines of this pandemic,” she continued. “We are working to protect the health of the American people, yet our folks continue to be targeted.” ⠀ She ended her message, writing, “Don’t forget the Asian Americans in healthcare who are working to protect your loved ones. So please, protect ours because we’re #humanlikeyou.”
ER Physician Assistant Asks People to ‘Please Stay Home’ with Uplifting Photo
Risa Budoff, an emergency room physician at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, has helped educate her Facebook followers by giving them an update from the frontlines of the fight and letting them know how they can help.
“The emergency room gets busier every day,” Budoff wrote on Facebook on March 23. “I feel it, the nurses feel it, the techs feel it. There’s a scary energy that continues to grow.”
“Everyone with minor to moderate symptoms needs to stay home and stay STRONG in terms of the strictness of their quarantine,” she continued. “Do not give up, do NOT let yourself become lax with the hand washing and the vigilance. Stay home if you are well. Stay AWAY from elderly people and friends who are well. Come to the emergency room ONLY if you cannot breathe and are too weak to walk.”
Budoff then asked her followers to help get gear for her colleagues, including gloves, gowns and N95 masks before writing, “we CANNOT TAKE BULLETS WITHOUT BULLET PROOF VESTS.”
She ended her note with a quote, which read, “we stay here for you, please stay home for us,” alongside a photo of her and her fellow colleagues posing in their gear, ready to bravely take on the day.
Nurse Enlists Fashion Designer Friend to Help Create Masks for Hundreds of Hospital Employees
Ellen Harkins, a stem cell transplant nurse at University of Chicago Medicine, works with patients who are “extremely immunocompromised due to receiving chemotherapy, which knocks down their white blood cell counts,” she told PEOPLE via email. Even the common cold could be severely detrimental to anyone she treats.
When the pandemic began, Harkins started to feel anxious about trying to keep her patients safe, while also protecting her fellow healthcare employees from exposure.
“I did the worst thing possible for my anxiety and started Googling,” she said. “I was overwhelmed with the amount of information I read, but the one thing that stuck out to me was that bandanas and scarfs were being labeled as acceptable PPE (personal protective equipment).”
The thought immediately prompted her to call her friend Sylvia Mroz, owner of SYLOETTE, a women’s fashion company, to ask if she could help make surgical masks.
“There was not a second of hesitation in her voice,” Harkins recalled. “Before I knew it, we were on our way to the fabric store and coming up with a prototype in her workspace.”
“The mask that Sylvia created is based off of the N95, dual layered with cotton blends for sturdiness and protection,” she continued. “Four straight days off of nursing spent cutting, sewing, and putting all the little ingredients together that would help protect the lives of so many. I no longer had anxiety as I learned how to sew next to my best friend who would jokingly say ‘get back to work’ if I got side tracked.”
As of early April, the two women, with help from their loved ones, have created hundreds of masks that have been donated to hospitals in the greater Chicago area.
Neurology Resident Highlights How ‘Hundreds of Resident Physicians’ Have Joined the Fight Against COVID-19
Daniel Oh, a neurology resident at Los Angeles County + University of Southern California Hospital, says that amid the chaos, he feels hopeful and inspired thanks to the unifying efforts being made within the Southern California medical community.
“At LAC + USC hospital, we have been fortunate to have resident physicians fighting the war against COVID-19 on many different fronts,” he told PEOPLE via email. “We have people working in the trenches, raising donations for personal protective equipment, and collecting concerns and questions from trainees so they can relay them to our administrators. Our efforts have been mobilized and streamlined through our union, the Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR).”
“We feel closer, more vocal, and stronger than ever,” Oh continued.
“Together, we will fight this war with the exceptional teamwork I’ve been able to witness,” he added. “Fight on!”
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC , WHO , and local public health departments . To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here .
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Translating Pre-Medical Experiences into Clinical Skills
Michael Foster | May 3, 2023
Your time before medical school is golden. It is a unique time to explore where your passions lie (both within and beyond medicine) and lay a strong foundation of the inter- and intrapersonal skills needed for you to be the best physician you can be. The best advice is simple: challenge yourself, be honest, and have fun! […]
The AAMC offers trusted resources and services to help you navigate the journey from premed to residency and beyond.
THE HEALING DOCTOR
Once there was a very good Doctor who was famous for his wonderful ability to diagnose whatever his patients had and what medicine to give them to heal them. From all over people came to him for this wonderful ability of his, until one day a patient walked in and the doctor, much to his distress, could not tell what this patient was suffering from and how to treat him. Desperate the doctor asked this patient to wait for him and ran out to his spiritual master. He told his spiritual master what had just happened to him and asked for advice. "You have nothing to worry about" - said the master, "You just have developed to another level and now you do not need anymore to know what your patient is suffering from. All you need to do is to put your hand on your patients and they will heal!" The doctor ran back home, put his hands on the patient who waited for him, and indeed the patient got healed. In the following years, sick people came from all over the world and the doctor put his hands on them and they got cured. The doctor got rich and happy until one day a patient came in, the doctor put his hands on him and nothing happened. Again the doctor ran to his spiritual master, told him what have happened and asked for his advice. "You have nothing to worry about" - said the master, "You just have developed to another level and now you do not need anymore to put your hands on your patients in order to heal them. All you need to do is to look straight into your patients'eyes and they will heal!" The doctor ran back home, looked straight into the patient's eyes, and indeed the patient got healed. In the following years, sick people came from all over the world and the doctor looked straight into their eyes and they got cured. The doctor got richer and happier until one day a patient came in, the doctor looked straight into his eyes and nothing happened. Again the doctor ran to his spiritual master, told him what had happened and asked for his advice. "You have nothing to worry about" - said the master, "You just have developed to another level and now you do not need anymore to look straight into your patients' eyes in order to heal them. All you need to do now is to sit calmly in the beautiful home that youhave built for yourself and open up to get thoughts of people who need your help, think about them and they will heal!" In the following years the doctor would sit every day in his beautiful working room and open himself up to get thoughts of sick people from all over the world who needed his help, and he thought about them and they got cured. The doctor didn't get money for that, but by now he didn't need the money and he was happy to be able to help so many people, until one day while he was sitting in his room, nothing happened. He could not get a single thought from anyone. Again the doctor ran to his spiritual master, told him what have happened and asked "And what level is it now?" "You have nothing to worry about" - said the master, "You just have developed to the highest level, you are now cured yourself and you do not need to heal anyone anymore."
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Inspiring stories of doctors
Being a doctor or dreaming of being a doctor that has their own cash medical practice takes a lot of hard work. There will be times that you feel like giving up, but keep with it. Not giving up allowed the people whose stories are below to reach their dreams.
1. The Pay Off of a Creative Idea
After I turned 19, my mom quit the CNA job she had at the time. She opened a boarding house in which she provided 24 hours care for 4 residents that lived there. In just a few months, the house was full of an elderly man that had memory issues, a man who had TBI from a car crash during his teenage years, and an elderly lady that had MS. Turns out that I liked living with these strangers. The next year, I went to the community college for Nursing. Soon after I had graduated the program and become an LPN, my mom closed the boarding house.
I moved to the city nearby and started working as a live-in caregiver. Soon, after I switched to an extended care facility. This is where I met my wife who was a CAN at the time. After getting married, I talked my wife into the fact that we could have a happier life by leasing a place that had room for patients to live. Soon we rented a home with 3 bedrooms. We borrowed the money for the supplies we needed. After placing an ad in the newspaper, we had two elderly women as our clients.
We both quit the jobs we had, and spent four days with our clients. Soon after that, we took out a loan to rent a 7 bedroom house and soon had 4 more clients. After 20 years, we still are providing care in the house. We make a comfortable income of over $140,000 per year and love our jobs.
2. A Client Helped Me
I was a CNA. The last assignment I had, was live-in care, and my client passed away at the end of 2007 due to natural causes. After 3 months of working with this client, he asked me about my plans for my career. I told him about my plans to become an LVN, and my goal to open a small residential group home. Then I explained to him that this goal was not reachable due to cost, and me being 56 years old at this time. He told me to find and research the schools that I wanted to go to, and the cost. Every day, he would ask about the assignment. One day, I told him about a fast track school. The problem was the cost. He then asked “How much?” I was embarrassed but replied that the program was 17 months and cost $18,500. His reply shocked me “No problem, consider it paid for, and you ARE going to go. You are very good at your job, and you are going to go far.”
After he passed away, he had left me the money that I needed to attend the school. I almost have my GED now and am planning to start my LVN program.
Even though there will be times when giving up feels like it will be the best option, it’s not. Having a cash medical practice and working in the medical field is never a simple task. However, the clients that you serve should help you keep going.
Attend our free webinar or 2 days Discovery Day event in Las Vegas to learn more about cash medical practice for your private practice.