The word compassion, roughly translated, is to suffer together. There are many times in healthcare situations when there is nothing more that can be done clinically, so the only additional comfort measures are through emotional support, compassion, and your physical presence. There is no better example of this truth than in labor and delivery. The body needs to do its work and yet the laboring mother needs support, encouragement and compassion.
Yesterday morning we welcomed our new grandson into the world. Our middle daughter and her husband gave birth to their first child. I’m honored that they asked me to be there as additional support because, as a mother, there is nowhere else I wanted to be – no, needed to be – than by my child’s side as she maneuvers her first delivery.
In spite of the fact that I have worked in labor and delivery and had a firm grasp on the clinical elements, my heart and mind were focused on my daughter. Yes there is a bit of mama bear in me, so I was on the alert. But what I found was some of the best, most compassionate and competent, nurses and doctors I’ve witnessed in my career. They were like poster boys and girls for the training objectives we follow in our Nurse/Patient Partnership and our Physician/Patient Partnership classes. They listened, they were attentive and communicated clearly and consistently. Above all; they were present. It was their constant presence that provided much-needed reassurance. From a clinical standpoint it communicated, “We’ve got this. We’re ready to jump in at any time.” From an emotional standpoint, it said, “We care about you and want to be here for you.”
During every encounter, each person has a unique opportunity to be fully present. How do you make every encounter count?