Message from the President

It’s Contagious

by Loren Hamel, MD - President, Spectrum Health Lakeland | Aug 27, 2019

When we hear the word “contagious,” it doesn’t usually sound like a good thing, does it? In health care, we know that when something’s contagious, it can quickly spread to everyone around. But there is something contagious that I hope we all catch: compassion. It’s one of our four Cs, along with courage, curiosity, and collaboration. And any act of compassion, big or small, is very contagious to the people around us.

Recently, I heard from one patient family who received compassion at a critical time in their lives. Although Lakeland is a part of many different stories every day, some of the most powerful can happen when a person is nearing the end of their life and they are receiving hospice care. 

The health of St. Joseph resident Bob DeVries had been declining for a while. A few weeks ago, his family knew it was time to go to the Hanson Hospice Center in Stevensville, where Bob could be cared for in a comfortable and skilled environment as he neared the end of his life.

A note from Bob’s wife Lucy Ann and daughter Ruth describes what happened next:

To the lovely person who made the blueberry muffins…

THANK YOU!! Your delicious muffin was the last food that my father desired and ate before beginning his final journey. Your act of kindness inspired my mother to go home and whip up a batch of Dad’s favorite cookies, snickerdoodles, to share. Dad loved these cookies and so with love and gratitude to all sharing this room: enjoy the cookies and toast your loved ones.

I don’t know who made those blueberry muffins. But I know that whoever it was must have been full of compassion to show kindness to the patients and families of the Hanson Hospice Center. And I know that their actions became a meaningful part of Bob’s end-of-life journey and his family’s story.

I hope you noticed that those muffins were contagious. After Bob’s wife Lucy Ann was touched by someone else’s compassion, she responded with her own, sharing homemade cookies with others. When someone is compassionate to us or someone we love, it usually inspires us to do something kind for someone else. It really is contagious!

So, I hope this story is contagious too, and it spreads to everyone reading it. This week, wherever you are at Lakeland, look for your chance to pass it on to those around you. This is one time that we can say “contagious” is a very good thing.

Dr Hamel signature

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© Spectrum Health Lakeland 2019