To those who prayed for us as we returned to UNC last week, thank you! It was an incredible day. From the moment I walked into the Children’s Hospital, a total peace washed over me. Strange as it may sound, I felt like I had returned to my home away from home. Walking in to the conference room, I saw familiar faces – doctors and nurses who had cared for Isaac. In many ways, it didn’t feel like two and a half years has passed since last seeing them, but rather just a few weeks. We caught up on our lives, shared stories, and reminisced on the 5 months we spent on the PICU.
All levels of staff involving PICU care were represented – from attendings (docs who run the unit) and nursing staff to patient relations and infectious disease docs. As I sat among these caregivers, I quickly remembered something I always enjoyed about UNC’s PICU staff – their commitment for excellence in their treatment of critically ill children and their constant desire for growth. I witnessed a true team effort. Not once did I ever see anyone pull rank in discussion or demean anyone in the conversation. UNC’s PICU team truly works together for the good of their patients. Their passion for these kids came through in everything they discussed.
Through the course of the meeting, I was able to interject thoughts about family care and getting parents more involved in the medical care process, particularly participating in morning rounds. Their genuine interest in my thoughts simply blessed me. To think that our experiences in ’07 could benefit other families with critically ill children overwhelmed me at times.
After the meeting, Heather (one of Isaac’s nurses who was at the conference and recently got engaged!! Congratulations!!) watched Eliana in the lobby so that Jordan & I could go up to visit the PICU. It was wonderfully strange to be back in the unit again. They have added 4 new rooms but it still felt just the same. Seeing the children and parents on the unit reminded us what life was like and how grateful we are to now have a healthy child.
Overall, it was an incredible experience. The conference itself was both fascinating and invigorating. I just love the medical environment! We enjoyed seeing familiar faces and catching up with some of the staff. In the months ahead, Patient Relations hopes to develop a focus group and eventually an advisory board to continue improving parent involvement and family care on the PICU. I’m deeply grateful to have been part of Wednesday’s meeting and look forward to contributing more in the future.