Archive for March, 2011

Relationships: The Front Line of Health Care

Chaos is the score upon which reality is written.”

– Henry Miller, American novelist and painter

This article first appeared on the PBS affiliated Website This Emotional Life.

As the Chief Executive Officer of a community hospital in the Los Angeles area, I am a big fan of the television drama “House.”  While it may on occasion stretch the boundaries of medical plausibility, it does an excellent job depicting the often tenuous relationship between doctors, nurses, administrators and patients in a hospital setting.  For seven seasons – nearly as long as I have held my current position – I have been a faithful viewer, but tonight I find myself in unfamiliar territory for a number of reasons.  First, there are zombies in this episode, which strikes me as odd for a show based in reality.  Second, there is an infant in my house, screaming as newborns tend to do.  Finally, there are two plates of fish at the table, and I am eating alone.

Working in a hospital, I have come to accept the fact that very few things surprise me anymore, as the unexpected and strange have long since replaced the usual and customary.  At any given day on the job I might observe the miracle of birth or the tragedy of life cut short, and on occasion even the phenomenon of life brought back from the brink. But regardless of whether art imitates life, work supplants home, or zombies magically appear in a medical TV drama, one thing remains constant – it quickly becomes clear to those involved in any emergency that the likelihood of survival rests on the stability of the relationships that are formed in the environment at hand.

As the onscreen events transition from the macabre to the surreal and the baby heads to his first bath ever, I sit eating my salmon while a small Pekingese dog stands on his hind legs, desperately begging for food.  I think of my young son, dependent on my wife to keep him clean.  I think of the dog, dependent on me to keep him fed. I think of patients dependent on House to keep them alive and House dependent on Dr. Lisa Cuddy et al. to keep him employed. And through it all I remember something else important – I really hate fish. Continue reading →


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