|Welcome to Blogtober at Montefiore
Every October bloggers around the U.S. try to encourage others to share stories through online writing as part of a national movement called Blogtober. Sharing experiences through storytelling enriches our understanding of the world, broadens our perspective on life and helps us achieve mutual respect.
With 550,000 patient visits each year and more than 19,000 associates working together to care for the Bronx and surrounding areas, Montefiore is full of stories. Our participation in this effort allows us to share personal stories and life-changing experiences while also giving others an inside look into the lives of those who make up this institution.
I consider myself a storyteller. As a practicing pediatrician, telling stories allowed me to connect with the kids I cared for and their parents. As a faculty member, I use storytelling to teach medical students and residents, as well as colleagues. And as a member of the leadership team, I use stories to help the organization evolve and continue to meet the changing needs of the community.
So, I'm kicking off this month-long adventure with one of my personal stories…
As pediatricians, one of the most important things we do, particularly for families of young children, is to frame the journey of parenting in a way that will help them cope – sometimes in difficult circumstances. I remember taking care of an infant girl in the newborn nursery when I was an intern and realizing she had a series of slight physical abnormalities and behavioral limitations. Both of those suggested that her development would probably not be entirely normal. We tried to identify a specific genetic abnormality, but were unsuccessful and remained worried nonetheless.
At a meeting with her parents, who had also noticed that their brand new baby girl was less vibrant and engaging than expected, the mother asked me directly whether her baby would walk on time or begin speaking at the appropriate age. At first, I wasn't sure how to answer since it wasn't clear what the future held for her child. But after a brief pause, I replied that's not the question that needs answering. The real question was – did they think they could love this little girl?
If the answer was "yes," then whether she walked – at one year, three years, six years or never – I could guarantee them she would have the best developmental outcome possible no matter what hurdles she would face. If the answer, however, was "no," then it didn't matter whether she got up and walked out of the nursery the next day, she would never be able to fully achieve her developmental potential.
I often think about that discussion and hope that reframing the situation was helpful for that mother and father. I'm certain it was helpful for the infant girl!
We all tell stories every day, so I hope you will check back regularly to hear from our team of experts about what it takes to help our patients and community.
Andrew D. Racine, MD, PhD, is Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at Montefiore Medical Center. He is also Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
Posted by blogmoderator on 10/07/2013 at 11:16 AM