Susan E. Mazer, Ph.D. Blog

Thoughts and ideas on healthcare

Hi, and welcome to my blog! I'm Susan E. Mazer -- a knowledge expert and thought leader on how the environment of care impacts the patient experience. Topics I write about include safety, satisfaction, hospital noise, nursing, care at the bedside, and much more.

The Importance of The Patient Experience in Times of Trauma

August 16, 2019

The patient experience is the richest of models of care. Having moved through the days of managed care, patient-centered care, and family-centered care, focusing on the patient experience as it is lived merges all of our various configurations.

Patient as Center

Patients are never critically ill and alone. They are the center of a complex system of relationships, expectations, needs, and promises; each patient represents a population of people whose contribution to each other and in their communities are substantive. Therefore, when we move inside the patient experience we find everyone who matters, whose concerns must be addressed, and for whom the patient makes a difference to in their lives.

Describing an experience or an event is substantially different than living it. Our language often fails us as we try to convey what is going on with us or try to fully grasp what is going on for others.

Nonetheless, the lived-experience is one that can only be somewhat understood through empathy, compassion, sensitive observation, and engagement. Patients express and demonstrate their preferred ways of engagement with their family, friends, and others. They make it clear when they need to be alone. And, families will readily show their own needs and preferences. All of them, patients and others, are inside the bubble of fear for themselves and each other. So too is the discord between family members, with love and fear becoming symbiotic twins.

On this day when we continue to grieve for the death and destruction that occurred in El Paso, Dayton, and Gilroy, we best acknowledge that the links between all of us are many and are closer than we may think. We are each vulnerable to the generic headlines and dismissals in the media or in our local banter when those who were lost have neither names or faces.

Healing and Curing: So Very Different

The injuries that occurred during the recent senseless shootings will most likely heal slowly. But, the woundedness, the betrayal of our beliefs that safety is ours to have, will take much more time. Some injuries that wounded the deepest part of ourselves may never heal.

Thus, to become whole again, to be restored on the other side of such trauma, is not an easy or certain path. And, we are never the same again. We cannot be. What we know now changed us. What a family knows that they never knew before the loss of a spouse, parent, child, friend… they cannot “unknow.”

For that reason, we are called upon the rebirth of our faith in each other, in our values, and in life itself. There are no easy steps. Only one step at a time, one day at a time, one person at a time. Whether a person is young or old, they forever become and remain a part of us.

I leave you with these powerful moving words from Maya Angelou:

When Great Trees Fall

By Maya Angelou

When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
gnaws on kind words
promised walks
never taken.

Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.

Source: https://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poem/when-great-trees-fall-by-maya-angelou