Thursday, March 7, 2013

Lessons Learned on the Burn Unit at Parkland Hospital

I am not one apt to complain.  At least that is the perception I have of myself. There is a distinct possibility that such self understanding is way off base. I am capable of whining about anything and everything.  I realized I have nothing to grumble about, because I spent today spent visiting friends at Parkland Hospital’s Burn Unit in Dallas.

I have a friend whom I privileged to serve at the Granbury Police Department that has been with her husband in the hospital since January 10th.  The “septic” infection in his body caused burns that led to admission to the ICU Unit at Parkland on the burn floor after being previously hospitalized in Ft. Worth. His ongoing recovery is nothing short of a miracle. His tenacity and courage is beyond description. As I visited with Doug and Sharon today, I learned a few things.

I discovered that there are a lot of really decent people in the world.  The two men that drive the shuttle bus from the hotel to the hospital have asked Sharon every single day about Doug’s progress. One of the gentlemen told her that he and his wife pray for Doug every evening at their home. Other hotel employees have extended similar kindnesses.  Several days ago an elderly couple encountered Sharon and her sister in a small “family room” on the burn floor.  After exchanging very brief pleasantries, these total strangers shed genuine tears as they listened to Doug’s story. They led a moving prayer for Doug and went about their way. Sharon asked her sister if they had just encountered two angels…No doubt they did.

My faith in health care professionals has been renewed.  The physician who took care of Doug in the emergency room at Harris Hospital in downtown Ft. Worth on January 10th took the time to call Sharon recently just to check on Doug’s progress.  Nurses from the first ICU unit Doug was admitted to at Harris Hospital have made similar gestures. I marveled at the compassionate and competent care that he received today at Parkland

As I visited with them at the acute burn unit, I heard about the 7 year old patient across the hall from Doug’s room. The little boy's pain has been awful. I stopped to visit with a lady that I had seen in hallway through the course of the day.  Her 22 year old son was burned in a house fire last Sunday morning.  I heard about patients literally screaming out in pain during wound care procedures.

One of Sharon’s co-workers from the police department joined me in my trek to Parkland today. Her concern reflects a recurring theme I have seen at the police department starting with the chief and moving through the ranks of officers and civilian employees. They care. I mean they really care.  I watched an officer “stand guard” over Sharon the very first night that Doug was admitted, so she could rest securely in the ICU waiting room. They have been generous with their time and their money.

I am supposed to be the police chaplain. I am supposed to be one providing spiritual care. But I am finding that they are teaching me how to serve.  And I found today that being in a burn unit at a large hospital taught me that I have nothing to complain about and everything to be thankful for. I will still be the chaplain tomorrow, but I think I will serve with a much better outlook. 

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