The emergency eye clinic at St. Michael’s Hospital is a busy place. It’s not only local patients but referrals from across Ontario. And for ophthalmologist Dr. Mark Mandell, who teaches medical students and residents there, he wants them to never forget that when patients have something wrong with their eyes, it’s a very scary experience.
“In terms of frightening things in medicine, the idea of vision loss is right up there,” says Dr. Mandell. “I try to reinforce with young doctors, that these patients need to feel heard and respected. They need to feel we understand their concerns and their fears. That is an important part of what we do.”
Over his years as a clinician and teacher, Dr. Mandell has thought a lot about what might constitute an ideal patient experience. For him, it comes down to a few things.
“The experience is ideal when patients are cared for in a timely fashion. When their health provider understands what they’re going through emotionally. When their physician takes the time to explain to them, carefully, what the prognosis is and what they’re going to go through. When they know their doctor is going to be available through it all.”
When Dr. Mandell heard about HUMANCARE, our movement to reinvent the patient care experience, he saw in it a reflection of many of his own beliefs.
“I think most of us go into healthcare because we want to help people and we want to provide the kind of care you’re talking about. Sometimes things get in the way, stressful situations, high volumes and demands to see people quickly. Which is why I think it is so vital that as our priority, human-centred care is always at the forefront of what we do, regardless of pressures, regardless of anything.”
That’s why Dr. Mandell hopes to see the HUMANCARE movement take hold right across the country.
“Each patient is unique. We can’t forget that. It’s easy to draw up an algorithm that tells you how to treat something, but the people part can get lost in the process. And we can’t let that happen.”
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