While rounding one Friday afternoon, I saw one of my patients in tears. The patient had undergone the successful removal of a brain tumor that had paralyzed the left side  of her body. I was puzzled by her tears as she had undergone a remarkable recovery since the surgery. I shared her elation in being able to ambulate with some assistance just the day before.

I sat down next to the patient, and we talked. The patient explained that her mother had recently passed and the funeral was being held the next day.  She shared that she would give anything to accompany her mother in this last chapter of her journey.

Dr. Clark C. Chen

After comforting the patient, I reached out to the nurse caring for them and explained the situation. We escalated the issue to the nursing manager and the case manager. We called in an urgent physical therapy consultation, connected with the family in terms of home care, and discussed the option of attending the funeral through FaceTime.

That Friday afternoon, while most people were wrapping up work in anticipation of a relaxing weekend, the nurses shifted into overdrive and rallied as a team around the patient’s tears. With the physical therapist’s blessing, family commitment of support, and procurement of home care equipment (which is no trivial endeavor on a late Friday afternoon for a Saturday morning delivery), the patient was discharged to be with her mother one last time.

I don’t think anyone ever told this patient about the magnitude of impossibility that the nursing team had overcome – only that she could be with her mother that Saturday.

What is the value of a tear unshed?

What is the worth of a selfless act?

It is why we celebrate National Nurses Week.

With gratitude and on behalf of our patients.

Happy National Nurses’ Week.