Why a broken healthcare system needs more selfless acts

Guest post by Lynn McVey,  chief operating officer of Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center, an acute care, 230-bed hospital in New Jersey.

While having a casual conversation with my buddy who is a salesperson, she told me she "doesn't believe there is such a thing as a selfless act." I disagreed, although I didn't argue. It's my personal opinion that my opinion isn't powerful enough to change anyone's thinking.

Unfortunately, my salesperson buddy was scheduled for major surgery thousands of miles away from me and my hospital. Since I couldn't convince her to travel cross country to my facility, I reached out to connect to folks in the facility she was using. I've helped navigate healthcare events for many non-healthcare folks in my career. As an insider, I know how frightening hospitals are. We know the system is too complex and complicated and in dire need of a major repair, so I'm always happy to do my part as an insider.

The day she went for pre-op testing, my connections met her and her husband in the lobby. They introduced her to the operating room nurses who would be involved with her surgery. They gave her their private cellphone numbers in case she had any questions, and took both her and her husband's numbers. The day of her surgery, they kept me updated via emails. They poked their heads into the waiting room to greet her husband. After surgery, they visited her room and updated me before leaving for the day. And for the record, I have never met either of these two healthcare angels.

In all honesty, I expected that response from them. Healthcare providers love to serve. It is how we are hard-wired. Serving is simply what we do every day, but my non-healthcare buddy was blown away. She was amazed that strangers would extend themselves to her like they did. She sent candy and thank you cards. She could not believe how well strangers had treated her. I couldn't help it--I asked if she still believed there was no such thing as a selfless act.