The extraordinary exception

Teri Appel, Patient

My mother, Natalie Stafinski, was recently a patient on the orthopedic service.  It was the common story — a fall and broken hip in an elderly patient, ensuing surgery, and then failure to thrive.  I wanted you to know, as Director of Medical Services, about a doctor who made a powerful difference for not only Mom but for the entire family during those days.

We keep hearing that the world of healthcare is becoming less human — and perhaps that’s true.  Certainly, policies and protocols have made it more difficult for doctors to connect with patients in ways that were once common.  Often, it’s the “parts” which get treated — not the whole person.  All medical personnel would like it to be otherwise, I’m sure — but rules and regs certainly create that climate.

Dr. Manish Sharma was the extraordinary exception.

From the time Dr. Sharma entered the scene as a Hospitalist, he was candid, kind, and patient.  His compassion for Mom was clear — and it extended to the family as we navigated the difficult decision to place Mom in hospice.  One moment will forever be with me.  My father is also in failing health, and Dr. Sharma had actually been involved at the time Dad underwent surgery for a brain tumor almost a year ago.  Dr. Sharma was able to comfort Dad following the hospice decision in a way we couldn’t.

His hand on Dad’s arm, he spoke solely to Dad, telling him that Mom would be able to rest, and that Dad had made the loving choice.  It was a very human and precious moment, once from which we drew comfort in a painful time.

I know that Dr. Sharma isn’t alone in that kind of humanity — it’s just that we so seldom get to experience it so closely, and when it’s needed so badly.  His patients and their families are fortunate to be in his care.

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