Treating Patients as Family

WellStar Kennestone’s Kimberly Swann Offers Concern, Compassion

Kimberly Swann

WellStar Kennestone Hospital

While on the job, Swann developed a rapport with a patient who had attempted suicide. She soon learned the man had hit rock bottom. A true rags to riches story, her patient had started a very successful business that eventually went downhill. Upon losing his business and his home, the patient told Swann he began drinking heavily. Divorce soon followed, as did an estrangement between he and two of his three children. Only owning the tattered clothes he wore when admitted, the man had nothing.

“I kept thinking about it,” she said, “and it kept tugging on my heart, because he seemed very sincere.”

So Swann decided to go on a shopping trip. She bought the patient three outfits and packages of socks and underwear. As he slept in his hospital bed, Swann left the gift in his room.

When time came for the patient to check out, he told Swann he was heading to Florida to stay with his mother, who had offered him a place to live under the condition that he would get his life together. However, the man was penniless and couldn’t afford bus fare. Swann then gave him the money for a bus ticket to Florida.

Although Swann hasn’t heard from her former patient, she hopes he’s found a new beginning. It’s this type of concern and compassion that inspired Swann’s coworker Carole Harman to nominate Swann for Celebrating Nurses 2015.

“It makes me feel good when I can help someone,” she said. “I don’t do it for something in return. I just do it because it’s the right thing to do.”

On how to treat patients:

“I believe you need to treat each patient as if they were your own family member. How would you want your own family member to be treated? You want to make sure you’re treating them as a person and not as a patient or as a number.”

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