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The humanity of post-acute care: part 2

This following blog excerpt originally appeared on the Provider Magazine Long Term & Post-Acute Care website and was written by Vivian Tellis-Nayak. Click here to see the original post.

When did you last notice a doctor sitting at the bedside, totally absorbed listening to the patient’s story? Danielle Ofri, MD, recalls bygone days whenever she talks with admiration of her mentors. They were white, male doctors in starched shirts and bow ties, schooled in lily white settings.

“Their old-fashioned doctoring made them approach the bedside as a sacred act,” Ofri says. “They examined each patient—whether a homeless Ecuadorian alcoholic, a veiled Muslim woman, or a visiting Swiss diplomat—with a thoroughness that in itself exuded respect.”

She speaks of Dr. Spenser, blustering in style but who coached young medics-to-be on compassion. He would drag a metal stool to the exam table, swivel it down to the lowest level, and sit on it with his head level to the exam table. Then he would say, “Whenever you speak to a patient, you seat yourself at the patient’s level or lower. You never hover over them high and mighty. They are the ones who are sick. They run the interview, not you.”

A kind caregiver whose eyes bespeak concern, whose touch conveys compassion, and whose words reassure, does more than just communicate; kindness and caring speed up recovery and hasten healing more surely than does the cold potency of the formulary.
Institutional medicine is quick to report that 70 percent of the avoidable, massive acute-care damage inflicted on patients is caused by miscommunication. Such analysis is typical of the biomedical mindset—it skirts the real issue; it begs the question.
Advances in communication make the world flatter and smaller, and social contact easier than ever. Why then is miscommunication an epidemic in health care?

Read the rest of the article here.

V. Tellis-Nayak, PhD, is Senior Research Advisor at NRC Health, Lincoln, NE
He has been a university professor, whose scholarly work has been published in national and international professional journals. He has conducted research in the United States and abroad, and his major findings have reached a wider public through his writings in trade magazines. He and his wife, Mary Tellis-Nayak, have co-authored a book, “Return of Compassion to Healthcare,” which upholds humanity as the ultimate measure of success of any human endeavor. He can be contacted at vtellisn@gmail.com.