Just before healthcare workers around the world became frontline fighters of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, nurses at Loring Hospital received a vibrant bouquet of flowers to serve as a much-needed reminder that the work they do makes an impact. But it was the note with the flowers that really struck a chord. It read:
“If everybody treated everybody else the way you treat your patients, what an amazing world we would have.”
The gesture was sent by Gene Wassom, who had been admitted to the hospital on February 5 for severe abdominal pain that turned out to be acute diverticulitis, or inflammation in a part of his colon wall.
“I felt safe in their (the staff’s) hands,” Wassom recalls of his weeklong stay. “They did everything possible to make my stay as comfortable as possible given my condition.”
Wassom felt that from every staff member, from the receptionists to the nurses and Dr. Zoltan Pek, MD.
He says Pek created a detailed care plan for him, and everything was completed with care and compassion for his well-being. He saw this time and again, from staff immediately being there if he needed something to putting an IV into his vein.
“I’m getting up in years, so that’s not the easiest thing to do, but the nurses were very meticulous about their work,” Wassom says. “They wanted to make sure it didn’t leave any marks or scars, and they took their time to get it done right.”
He adds everyone was dedicated and attentive to even the smallest details, which made him feel like they cared and that their work mattered to them.
“Dr. Pek doesn’t miss a thing, and the nurses were so aware, looking for anything that might possibly be wrong and things going right, too,” he says. “Everybody was alert and on their toes.”
Impressive, but not surprising, Wassom says. He’s been going to Loring Hospital for various appointments, including physical therapy after hip replacement surgeries and a colonoscopy, for nearly 20 years now, and he says the thorough care and friendly staff have earned his trust.
He also appreciates the feel of the small, rural hospital as opposed to bigger facilities.
“People treat you with more respect, courtesy and care here,” he says. “It’s more like being at home, where people know you.”
Sending the flower bouquet isn’t the first time he’s shown his appreciation to Loring Hospital nurses. He’s been delivering a plate of sweet treats to staff each Christmas Day since at least 2004, he estimates.
“When you get that kind of treatment – and I’m at the age now I’ve had enough experiences to know – you realize that’s really a blessing,” Wassom says. “They deserve to know that patients like me know of a job well done. It’s an affirmation that what they’re doing is having an effect. And they need that, especially now with all the things going on in the world and COVID-19. We need a positive outlook.”
Wassom has since recovered and is doing well, but there are some days he misses being around such bright, personable, and compassionate people.
“I wanted to get out and be healthy, but I almost hated to leave,” he adds. “There’s nothing to fear at Loring, I’ll tell you that.”