The buzz in healthcare these days is all about technology. Telehealth, artificial intelligence, micro-devices, 3D printing, innovative implants and more all dominate the conversation around healthcare. But no matter how shiny, glitzy or exciting the technology is, the core strength of healthcare today lies in the people who do the many often thankless jobs that the industry requires.
My 99-year-old father took a fall in early January. His injury, a broken coccyx, was relatively minor, but the incident led to a chain reaction of other issues that ended up requiring long term care. After a few days in the hospital, he was transferred to a rehabilitation nursing facility, where he remained for almost 3 months. It isn’t always the case that extended visits to such facilities keep families happy, but this one seemed to, and it was simply the people involved who made the difference.
My father was moved to the Genesis Healthcare San Juan Center in Farmington, NM. Genesis, a large post-acute care provider with approximately 400 skilled nursing centers and senior living communities in 29 states, bought the facility from another company a couple of years ago. It is not a shiny new facility, but it is clean and well maintained. And its people were amazing.
I referenced that fact in an earlier article regarding patient attitude, but did not want to reveal the specific location where my father was residing. At this point, however, I am more than happy to give a positive shout out to Genesis and their San Juan staff. The management, nurses, nursing assistants, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists; everyone we interacted with, was knowledgeable, friendly and caring. Even the facilities management folks seemed to go above and beyond. The center definitely had a customer/patient focused culture, and it showed.
One of the physical therapists who worked with my father was a bit of a history and World War II buff, and he seemed genuinely thrilled to be assisting a WWII vet who was a D-Day participant. He knew all about the class of boat my father served on in the Canadian navy, and even found old pictures of Dad and his crew online. He loaded them on an iPad to show my father. It was a very personal touch that was greatly appreciated.
The very nature of these places can be quite depressing, but my family and I were very surprised to be as pleased as we were with the care my father received there. To be sure, we were actively involved in his care. My sister was there several days a week. I visited a few times, as did another sister from Wisconsin. There is no doubt that a supportive family network will bolster the care a patient receives, but the staff was responsive and highly cooperative with our requests. They never treated us, or him, as a nuisance.
My father made some progress at the facility, but at 99 there was only so much they could achieve. He has since been moved to a nursing home. The care and therapy he received at Genesis San Juan Center was definitely old school; not much in the way of high-tech wizardry was involved. But the experience was a reminder that the foundation of every patient’s care requires trained and dedicated people. The importance of the “human touch” in healthcare cannot be discounted and should never be ignored. In our race for bigger and better technological solutions, we would be best to always remember that fact.