The Center for Patient Protection is guided in everything we do by what we call The Lorraine Finlay Healing Healthcare Virtues™ of Compassion, Honesty, Humility, Courage, Hope, Respect, Dedication, Patience, Fairness – and Kindness towards all.
Named after the late mother of The Center for Patient Protection’s founder, Kathleen Finlay, they are the virtues that guided Lorraine all through her life as a healthcare professional beginning in World War II and the unstinting care and compassion she showed to returning veterans. She was truly a frontline member of the Greatest Generation.
These are also the same virtues that research, and conversations with patients and families around the world, have told us are pivotal in delivering safer, more healing care for patients and families. Yet they are too often missing from the actual hospital experience of patients and families, especially when it involves medical errors and the willingness of healthcare providers to deal openly and fairly with their aftermath.
Compassion, Honesty, Humility, Courage, Hope, Respect, Dedication, Patience, Fairness – and Kindness towards all. These are the healing healthcare virtues that can enable miracles.
Sadly, Lorraine was deprived of many of these virtues during her hospitalization, and with life-threatening consequences. During her half-year-long admission at two hospitals, more documented medical errors were inflicted on Lorraine than on any patient in the history of patient safety literature. She suffered repeated adverse medication events, a near-fatal seizure, painful pressure ulcers, ventilator-associated pneumonia, aspiration pneumonia, and a cardiac arrest that caused permanent disability. Toward the end of her six-month stay, she was left severely malnourished and in terrible pain. The hospital pronounced her demise “imminent” and insisted that any hope for recovery was unreasonable.
Neither hospital that treated her, including Canada’s largest academic hospital, ever acknowledged any harm or errors.
Believing in the right to try, and not willing just to give up and die, Lorraine and her family worked together and put these healing healthcare virtues to work. Instead of being left in the hospital to die, Kathleen and her family brought their mother home to give life to her wish that she should have the right to try. Lorraine enjoyed a recovery that set medical records for a patient of her age and injuries. She went on to live another six years and enjoyed a life full of love, music, conversation, great food (she had remarkably transitioned from a feeding tube to eating regular meals) and the incomparable joys of her family, friends, garden and pets. In 2017, surrounded by her family, a home full of love and the memories of a life well-lived, Lorraine peacefully took her final breath in the same home where she had taken her first, 95 years earlier.
Such is the power of the healing healthcare virtues that bear her name. In a moving tribute, The Globe and Mail wrote, “Lorraine had an unswerving compassion for all things living.” You can read more about Kathleen’s harrowing journey with her mother, in Medscape’s Doctor Don’t Give Up on Me.
When patients and families insist upon these virtues being reflected in every aspect of healthcare and hospital interaction, and providers ensure they are delivered in everything they do, we believe the experience will be safer and more fulfilling for everyone.
You might even discover a miracle or two awaits, just as it did for Lorraine and her family.