Most of us have experienced acts of kindness by strangers, but most of those acts go unreported.
The Good Samaritan won't go about boasting about what he did, and the recipient of the kindness will thank him and move on. From time to time, however, somebody provides enough help to someone that it gets talked about. I am always heartened by these tales of compassion and self-sacrifice. Anytime someone helps another human being in need, it is a sign of true character.
I thought about that recently when I received a newsletter from Allen Weiss, MD, the CEO of Naples (Fla.) Community Hospital. The title of his newsletter is Straight Talk, and although I get a lot of articles and newsletters from a variety of organizations, I always take the time to read his, which goes out to the local citizenry. For the past 25 years I have had a residence in Naples, and during the winter months my wife and I spend quite a bit of time there. There was a time not too long ago when Naples Community Hospital had a troubled history. It seemed everybody was upset, including its physicians, nurses and, most importantly, patients. As a casual observer, I didn't really understand what was happening, but in recent years things seemed to have changed because I heard many favorable comments about the hospital and Dr. Weiss. A few weeks ago, I learned a lot more, taking a tour of the facility with the good doctor/CEO. Now I know why the hospital is doing so well.
Over the years I have had the privilege of visiting many hospitals, and I've developed a good nose for how a hospital is doing, what the morale is like and how the staff members feel about the CEO. It isn't really that hard to read people, especially if you are alert to their reactions. After all, it's the CEO who really sets the standard of conduct and behavior of the staff.
While taking the tour with Dr. Weiss I noticed how the nurses and physicians reacted to him and how much time he took to visit other staff members as well. It was a very positive experience, and I could understand why the hospital has attained the stature it has in the community. It has a leader who values listening, and treating each and every staff member with dignity and respect.
Maybe a better way to evaluate Naples Community Hospital is by the two stories Dr. Weiss featured in his newsletter. The first one had to do with an employee finding a $100 bill on the floor near the entrance to the hospital. She immediately told a co-worker that she had found the note, and together they decided to go to the security department and turn it over to them. Later a tired gentleman who had been up all night keeping vigil over his wife who had had surgery returned to the hospital looking for the $100 bill and security was able to return it to him. Not very dramatic but a little act of kindness that made one person's life a little bit better.
The next story related by Dr. Weiss had to do with a gentleman who was rushed to the hospital suffering from a heart attack. His wife accompanied him, dressed only in her pajamas. It wasn't long before one of the staff members offered her one of her jackets she could wear over her pajamas. Well, the harried wife couldn't have been more grateful. Later she and her husband -- who survived the heart attack -- thanked the hospital staff for being so attentive and caring. Again, in and of itself, not a big deal, but such episodes of kindness start to mount up, and together create an impression of a hospital that truly cares about its patients. When they are reported by the CEO, it starts to reinforce the value of caring.
The top person sets the tone by his or her character, integrity and devotion to mission. Those traits flow throughout the organization, and the results are evident to anyone who enters the hospital. Dr. Weiss related two small stories that painted a picture of why a medium-sized hospital in Florida has attained such stature in its community.