09 November 2009

Heart Care

The recently opened Ronald O. Perelman Heart Institute at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center was a sight for sore eyes and a calm for anxious nerves. It couldn't have been a more dignified experience for me as a family member of a patient's recent visit.

The marble-strewn entrance was like that of New York's Four Seasons hotel (I later confirmed that they share the same architecture firm). Behind the reception were two concierge-like staff dressed in smart, black suits. Energetic, polite and assertive (this was a hospital after all), they received me and my patient with warmth. For a moment, I thought we were checking in for a weekend getaway but the name tag being attached to my patient's wrist was a sure sign that we in fact were not. It was, thankfully, attached with a smile. We were then escorted together to the recovery room so that I'd be familiar with the day's procedure.

Upon my return to the five-story atrium waiting area, I was given a pager in case I would leave the area. With carefully appointed trees and bamboo planters, wireless internet access and an education resource center, why would I leave this place? A welcome bag/survival kit for me included a crossword puzzle book, a CD of relaxing music ("for the patient"), hand sanitizer and lip gloss. A food concession offered healthy snacks so I didn't need to trek to the main, subterranean cafeteria of the hospital. This department clearly takes bringing comfort and quietude seriously to those of us waiting and hoping for positive medical results and news.

I was updated regularly about my patient's status:
"She getting ready to go into the surgery room."
"She's doing fine and is heading to the recovery room."
"Please follow me. The surgeon would like to speak with you now."

There couldn't have been more hand-holding than what I was given.

The Heart Institute successfully merges generous personal attention, cardiac education and thoughtfully appointed surroundings. It was seamless. Sometimes, we need to be taken care of just as much as our patients do. All it takes is just a little heart.


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