It's been exactly 82 days since I started my new job and role as Division Chief of Otolaryngology (Ear, Nose and Throat) here in Orlando and Central Florida. Wow, I really can't believe where the summer has gone. As I take the time to reflect on my professional and personally transition to Central Florida, each and every day I am so grateful to be here and a part of NCH here in Orlando.
I have never, in the same setting/environment, met so many physician, surgeons, nurses, advanced nurse practitioners, medical assistants, scheduling specialists, volunteers, environmental service specialists, operating room perioperative services staff, not least of all our administrative leaders, amongst countless others, who are so motivated, committed, inspired, and willing to work as a team to deliver extraordinary care to the children and families of Central Florida and beyond. The other morning, I got up early, and at 5:15am I found a document I wrote to myself as I was debating whether or not I should move to Orlando and join the Nemours team. On that list I had written down all the issues which frustrated me in my prior practice environment, and all the issues I would likely never be able to "fix" or influence. I also wrote a list of what I thought I would gain professional if I took a leap of faith, and risk, and moved here to start all over. It brought tears to my eyes when I realized as I read both lists, that clearly I had made the right choice coming here. Each and every day, everyone around me and those I serve as I have the privilege to lead in the ENT division, are fully aware of the challenges we all face as a new hospital, yet everyone has taken the time to openly discuss, share, and come up with solutions to first and foremost, create access for patients and families to the excellent care that every provider is committed to delivering to this community. So many other physicians and surgeons have given up their hard earned reputation in their prior hospitals, communities, and regions, asked their family to make the sacrifice and take a leap of faith and start new lives here in Orlando. Any parent knows the stress of moving your children to a new school, let alone moving to a new house, etc etc. You must ask yourself, why would all these established career professionals do this? To come to a place where your almost anonymous, and no one will refer patients to you unless they get to know you and the excellence you can provide their patients, it take an immense amount of work and time to re-create our professional achievements in a new hospital and community.
Yet, I came, and so did everyone else. I know why I came, and when I speak to others at our hospital, they came for the same reasons. We wanted something different, something truly special, and to practice our art and medicine of our specialty in a culture where patients and families come first and we never think we are already good enough that families should just come to us because of our name. Instead, never before do you see or experience a "start up" in healthcare, where there is every reason to care about the true customer service aspect of delivering health care. But that's not all. I have been humbled by the brilliant minds of those around me, there are hundreds of collective years of research and innovation amongst all these specialists that I have met, and already, a few meetings with my colleagues, we are practically giddy with the realization of the opportunities for us to collaborate in research and studying treatment outcomes for problems that we all see daily. You see, we are pretty educated and smart physicians who are so very well trained. But when everyone is busy doing the same, we simply can't do something different.
Nemours Children's Hospital is different, I assure you. Despite working 83 days without taking vacation (I will next week while my family is in town), the tears I did shed initially when I realized, mourned, and accepted as I let go of who I was in Kansas City, and the days of frustrations when a small voice of uncertainty asks me if I really think I can make a difference, the answer is a deafening YES. I know so because I am not doing it alone. NCH is the team I have been looking for my entire career, because no matter how good I think I am or try hard to be, to give your child the most excellent level of care he/she deserves no matter what the health problem is, you and your family need a team and a hospital that functions as one team.
As I go out to clinics in downtown Orlando on 1717 S. Orange Ave, and at Lake Mary (3300 W. Lake Mary Blvd), families sometimes tell me that Lake Nona is too far. I tell them I understand the realities of time, toll expense, and travel, but I also promise them, NCH and we, our team, is worth the drive and effort. As we continue to grow, specialists like myself and my partners will be even more accessible to families because we WILL come out to you. ENT has clinic 5 days at week at NCH Lake Nona, 4 days a week in Downtown Orlando and 4 days a week in Lake Mary. Other specialists are doing the same.
If you don't try something different, how would you know? I know what my promise is, to really listen and to really find answers to your child's health issues, even if that means sending your child to someone else.
Join me next Wednesday, 10am - 11am, on Nemours Children's Hospital Live Facebook Chat, to talk about runny noses, cough, snoring, and much much more. What a concept, I belong to an organization that constantly thinks of ways to bring health information to you so that you can be empowered to care for your child even if you haven't been to NCH. If you have experienced Nemours, and hopefully it was a positive one, tell everyone! If your experience was less than positive, we need to hear from you even more so that we can improve on what we're doing. Not everyone wants to know but we do.
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