"When you pity people who are sick, you take away their power."
This from a wise-beyond-her-years cystic fibrosis patient, Claire Wineland, with her proclamation that we need to change the way we treat sick people. She should know, as she spent a lot of her childhood in a hospital room and claims she was "100% content and happy with her life". In fact, the majority of her happiest moments were when she was sick in the hospital. Maybe because she always decked out her room with cool furniture, throw pillows and twinkle lights that illuminated not only hers, but the lives of all the doctors, nurses and staff who would come by to check it out. Maybe because she did not tie her undying joy to how healthy she was. Maybe because she put her pain and suffering to work with the founding of Claire's Place Foundation, in support of families living with cystic fibrosis.
"Everyone in the medical community gets so stuck in this notion that a hospital room is this cold, sterile, white place where we go to be sick — and that that's all it can be," said Claire. She claims our lives are like empty hospital rooms. We all have the capacity to turn an empty hospital room into something beautiful. And that no matter what, we can make our lives a piece of art. Like hers was.
There will be no more medical staff visits to Claire's New York loft-style patient room, as she passed away earlier this month at the young age of 21. But wouldn't it be awesome if her inspirational video could be included in sensitivity training for doctors, nurses and PAs? If we could transform the patient experience by empowering patients, rather than pitying them? If we could think the way she did when creating our next healthcare marketing campaign?
Watching her short video may be the most memorable thing you do today. It was for me when I caught it on Facebook last week. Let us know if it touched your heart.
For more on the patient experience, check out our blog, Patient Experience Dept. RX: Empathy Specialist Consult.