Message from the President

Simply Amazing

by Loren Hamel, MD - President, Spectrum Health Lakeland | Oct 24, 2019

Late last January, Brandon arrived at the Lakeland Medical Center emergency department in St. Joseph. He had been sick for months but tried to ignore the worrying symptoms, including severe bruising on his chest and arms.

That night, he learned that he had end stage liver failure. He was told that the only way he would survive was with a life-saving liver transplant. To make matters worse, he didn’t have health insurance, so he was worried about what that would mean for his care and treatment.

But that’s when his Lakeland team stepped in. They assured him that they would take care of him. He didn’t have to have insurance to get treated. They would take care of him regardless, and it started that night with a friendly nurse named Cameron who helped keep Brandon’s spirits up.

Brandon was admitted to the hospital, and over the next several days, he lost 60 pounds of water. Brandon said that he went into the hospital feeling like he was dying and was discharged to wait for a liver transplant feeling like a million bucks.

That experience changed his perception of hospitals. Honestly, he had hated them before. He watched his mom and other family go to the hospital when he was young and associated it with pain and death.

But after his patient experience, Brandon started to see hospitals a little differently. He saw Lakeland as a place of healing. In fact, he said that when he wasn’t in the hospital he would get warm fuzzy feelings if he happened to drive by and see the building. How many people have you heard say something like that about a hospital?

Brandon knew he wanted to spend more time at Lakeland. He even talked with the volunteer office and applied to help out while staying at Lakeland. He felt inspired by all of the people who worked at Lakeland and took care of him. He dropped off the paperwork and went on to visit family in Texas. Over the next six months, he was in and out of hospitals before going to Ann Arbor, Michigan for a liver transplant.

But Brandon kept thinking about Lakeland, and he decided to return to school and study phlebotomy. In March, he applied and got a job as a phlebotomist at Lakeland. He was thrilled! He would be working with the same doctors and nurses who helped save his life, and he would have a chance to help others.

“Every day I am grateful I get to come to work here,” said Brandon. “I see it as a privilege and would do it for free (don’t tell anyone). I especially enjoy working with patients and think I have an advantage having been on both sides of the phlebotomy needle. It’s easy to empathize with my patients.”

Brandon’s story is an example of everything we stand for here at Lakeland, and it’s truly amazing. But to Brandon, the people he works with are the most amazing ones:

“Every day is special when you’re a transplant recipient like me—not only for me, but also for my thankful family and friends. Every day I’m reminded of the good in people. I work with some of the most dedicated and intelligent people on Earth, and the team members at Lakeland are simply amazing.”

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If you would like to read more of Message from the President, click here

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