It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye To: Hendrick Medical Center

19 Aug


It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye To:

Hendrick Medical Center

If you immediately started singing the title to this song with the Boyz-2-Men tune…you’re from my generation.

This post will start a series of posts acknowledging why leaving behind Abilene and what I do here will be so hard.

My history with Hendrick Medical Center (HMC) starts about 32 years ago.  It was a day in early December that began with hopes and dreams, in the middle a baby boy was born and ended with my dad running out for a hamburger, falling asleep in the parking lot with a migraine and coming back hours later.  I suffer from occasional migraines also (I just try to have mine at more “convenient” times.)

Later, in comes Dr. Steve Faehnle to be my first and only baby-doctor but I vaguely remember seeing Dr Pope a time or two.  When it was time to come back here, I started to remember some of the things that Dr Faehnle said to me back in those days:

Don’t stick anything in your ear smaller than your elbow.


That’s nothing 10 shots in the bootie won’t cure (or something like that, it’s been 32 years).

In my high school years, I had another experience with HMC.  On an early school morning, I pulled in front of an oncoming car.  I remember the ambulance driver asking where we would go, immediately the answer was Hendrick.  There was just no other option for my family.  It would mean driving right past the other hospital in town, but that didn’t matter to my family.  Hendrick is where my family went.

Now, that I’ve seen Hendrick from the other side for a few years, I can point back to a few of the things that made it our family hospital.   All of them can pretty well be summed by saying that Hendrick has a focus on putting the patient first.

Let me point to some examples that I have seen of that along the way:

The building of the brand new wings of the hospital, labor and delivery and pediatrics.  I was a little late to be involved in the planning stages of the two new wings but when you walk through the halls, it is clear that there was a focus on the patient and their family.   The pediatric rooms are big enough for a patient bed, a family bed/couch, multiple chairs and still plenty of room for our child life specialist to build some crazy, huge play area on the floor.  I walk in and wonder some times, “Does this child have any incentive to get better?  It’s like Christmas in here, family all around, new toys and you can order food whenever you want.”  The construction of pediatrics is so patient focused there wasn’t even room to squeeze a men’s employee bathroom in the back (just sayin’).

Another example I have seen of Hendricks patient focus is in its provision of charity care.  Hospitals (even non-profit hospitals) have an incentive to make money.  If you can’t make money, you can’t keep your doors open.  I know that HMC helps out those who need it but I was able to personally see it with some friends of ours.  I had to take their little boy up to the hospital for stitches in the night…it meant an ER visit, sedation and supplies for stitching; all to add up to a not so cheap visit.  They got a bill from HMC and went up to figure out how to pay it.  Things would have been tight for them for a bit but they would’ve figured it out; instead they were greeted with an extraordinary favor of having their bill waved…what a blessing to this family!

Finally, the easiest way to see HMC patient focus is in the behavior of their employees.  You can see a smile on the faces from the coffee shop workers and volunteers downstairs to the nurses upstairs to the food and nutrition who drops off and picks up the patient trays.   Being in the hospital is never fun, you’ve lost control of what you wanted to be doing for the day and having someone smile and say “Good morning” doesn’t fix everything, but it sure doesn’t hurt.

I’m not sure if I’ll ever work in a place like Hendrick Medical Center again, but I know that I’ll take lessons that I’ve learned here everywhere I go.


One Response to “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye To: Hendrick Medical Center”


  1. What to look for in a pediatrician… | Doc J Smitty's Wife - September 9, 2013

    […] our family and to our friends and to Justin’s patients. {For more info, see Justin’s blog post here.} Not only that, but they have a whole floor for pediatrics. Your kids will be taken care of by […]

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