When the new Spine Center opened at Weiss earlier this fall, patient experience manager Stacy Spencer learned what patients go through firsthand. Having severely herniated a disc in her lower back, she entered the hospital not as an employee, but as a patient about to undergo major surgery.
Spine surgeon Purnendu Gupta chats with patient Stacy Spencer, who is
also Patient Experience Manager at Weiss.
“I came to the surgery decision without feeling rushed,” Spencer told an audience of physicians, physical therapists, nurses and patients at the Spine Center’s official open house in November.
Led by Purnendu Gupta, M.D.—an orthopedic surgeon at Weiss and associate professor at the University of Chicago—the Spine Center provides care for patients with spinal disorders. “We needed a skilled team to care for patients minute to minute,” Dr. Gupta said.
The Open House for the Spine Center welcomed doctors, medical staff and
visitors to the inpatient unit where patients stay after surgery.
That team includes people from across hospital disciplines. Environmental Services employees keep patient rooms clean and sterile; dieticians plan healthy meals; phlebotomists collect and organize blood samples. “It’s about consistency in care,” Dr. Gupta said.
Calling medicine “an art,” he added, “Healing occurs not through technology but through the thoughtfulness and care of everyone here.”
Early on during the patient’s time in the Spine Center program, the patient meets with a physician to go over her specific condition. Reserving surgery as a final option, the physician discusses other options with the patient—such as physical therapy or pain medication.
If the patient’s condition comes down to surgery, Spencer said, “The program prepares you for what to expect the day of surgery, the day after and on to physical therapy.”
At the Spine Center’s ribbon cutting during the first week of November, Henry Finn, M.D., medical director of the Chicago Center for Orthopedics (CCO), credited Dr. Gupta with the newest program under the CCO umbrella.
“It would not have been possible without him. Dr. Gupta is a humble, kind and gentle soul. He is a surgeon who will go to any length to comfort a patient or family in crisis,” Dr. Finn said.
Dr. Gupta—with a team of spine surgeons, a nurse and Weiss CEO Frank
Molinaro—cuts the ribbon at the open house
The ribbon cutting took place on the same floor as the inpatient unit that houses the Spine Center patients at Weiss. “This is where patients spend the bulk of their time,” Dr. Gupta said. “They recognize the nurses here who are up with them at night when they’re in pain.”
When Spencer was one of those patients, her boyfriend served as her “coach,” spending the night in the hospital with her, asking questions of the doctors and nurses and basically serving as Spencer’s memory.
“With the pain cocktail, it’s all a blur,” Spencer said.
A month after surgery, she feels excited by her progress. “I couldn’t have had a better experience, and believe me, I’m very discerning when it comes to experience.”