During a global pandemic, civil unrest, job insecurity, elections underway in America, it is safe to say this would not be the best time to be diagnosed with a serious illness. Still, I was. Just for the record, I am okay due to all the good wishes and on-going support of friends, as well as the healthcare workers at Kaiser Permanente. What began for me three months ago as a health challenge, I later named a “health crisis.” Yet, as I went deeper into the self, I realized it is actually a “health opportunity.”
You might be curious to know how I morphed from viewing it as a health challenge, to a health crisis to a health opportunity? Well, it all began with the awareness that I have the power to choose how I respond to life’s unfolding. I believe we become what we think. As scary as that can be at times, the benefits outweigh the concerns. If I can grab those thoughts that truly represent the bigger part of my existence, then I am living my truth. This “health opportunity” reminded me that I have the power within to create what I want and how I envision my life to unfold.
As a person with a lifetime background of being empathetic (an empath), I value my ability to read into circumstances and people. Being in service to humanity, I have come across thousands and thousands of people. This tremendous amount of experience has helped me understand the hearts of people and how they show up in their lives and the world. So, when I began to go to Kaiser Permanente almost every other week for checkups or tests, I found myself observing and experiencing a culture of care within the walls of Kaiser Permanente (the Tysons Branch in Virginia)
The nurses who greet you outside for a COVID-19 screening are kind and personable. On one occasion, I witnessed a security guard dealing with a disgruntled woman who wasn’t quite pleased about something. He responded to her with respect, even though she still didn’t listen to him. He kept his kind regard for her even with her unwillingness to comply with his request. Likewise, the receptionists who I have come to know have a special way of greeting me, especially since I continue my enduring habit of distributing blessings cards as my special way of reminding folks of the good in their lives. My primary care physicians, Dr. Pamela Alexander, Dr. Madhavi Ambati, and my surgeon Dr. Jenny Hong made this whole ordeal a flight on a magic carpet. I could share many stories of what I witnessed but I wish to mention a few in particular with the hope that you might capture a sense of the genuine experiences I took away. Keep in mind, I am not getting any compensation for sharing my experiences with Kaiser Permanente. I merely want you to know this experience truly moved me and enhanced my faith in our healthcare industry.
So here goes, for over one month I did not tell any of my family members here or abroad about my “health opportunity.” While my extended family has hospitals in India and I had access to doctors there for treatment, I chose the road less traveled. I wanted to face this on my own and with the doctors here. When I eventually became clear about the extent of the illness, only the doctors knew and a few dear friends. Dr. Ambati, who had been with me on my journey since the beginning, dealt with my condition with grace, determination, and sometimes force to get me going. She needed to do that. When Dr. Alexander, my primary physician, got wind of my condition, it was her tone, care and compassion that made the world of difference. Dr. Hong had the presence of compassion, insightfulness, and a bit of gentle tenacity.
Then there was Lexie, the health care nurse with whom Antonia, my EA, spoke with about booking my surgery. Knowing Antonia, she would seek the best surgeon. Lexie was very efficient, professional, and caring as she ensured that the details were finalized to schedule an appointment with Dr. Hong who is very well credentialed. When Lexie attempted to contact me to schedule the appointment, I was not available and by the time we spoke on the following day, Dr. Hong had a full schedule and I would need to schedule with another surgeon. I remembered how Lexie’s voice went a little low in giving me that news. She really wished that I had been able to schedule the appointment with Dr. Hong. So, I told Lexie, if it’s meant to be, it will happen. Guess what? Someone cancelled a few days later and Lexie called me with joy as if she had won the lottery! She was so pleased to have connected me to Dr. Hong. Imagine if we could all go that extra mile to care for another. What possibilities would we have in healing our collective “opportunities.”
It has now been a month since the surgery and I am doing fine. As I reflect on the past few months, and all the folks who took such great care of me — from radiology, the lab, receptionists, nurses, and even the security guards along with one young lady who comes out every 15 minutes to wipe down the seats and doors — I find myself sharing with friends, “Kaiser has such a culture of care. It’s as if they attract the creme de la creme of healthcare providers.”
It has been awhile since I’ve written any articles for any outlets and this goes to show the indelible impact everyone made on me during my time of need. I wish to say, thank you. Although that still does not seem to be enough for all of you at Kaiser for living, serving, and being a group that embodies a culture of care. For now, I hope it will be enough.