Monday, August 10, 2015

Elderly Couple Holds Hands Across Their Hospital Beds

A hospital in Fayetteville, Ga., made special arrangements for a couple, married 68 years, to see one another during a recent stay.   The couple could not share a room because of state regulations for private rooms, but staff at Piedmont Fayette Hospital arranged for Tom to visit Arnisteen during their stay,  Tom, 96, "wept" as he talked about his love for Arnisteen, 92:  “I just can’t be away from her, she’s the finest woman in the world,” he said.
Yes.  Lovely.  Sweet.  Touching.  But come on....really!!
The big deal here is not that this couple was able to hold hands across the chasm of state regulations and hospital boundaries.  The big deal is that this is not the norm.  The big deal is that the hospital's honoring of the bond of a lifetime of shared experience, meaning, and love that this couple share is so rare that this picture went viral.
Patient centered care - that omnipresent health care meme - should mean caring for what's at the center of the patient's world.  If this were truly the case, then care should always be wrapped around the patient's core needs, values, and relationships.  And the patient's life partner sits at the very center of it all.  It is that relationship, for better or for worse, that exerts huge influence on the patient's physical, emotional, and psychological well being.
One day, during my partner's hospitalization for heart surgery, I was sitting near his bed, doing nothing, really.  I said to him, "I wish I could help you."  He responded, "Just having you here help me breathe easier."
In my dream health care world, this photo is one of thousands.
I'm interest in hearing from you about hospitalization experiences you and your partner have been through.  Was the importance of your relationship recognized and supported?  Were you asked to leave the room when the doctor arrived to examine the ill partner?  Or were you asked to stay to hold his hand and share your perspective?

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