A patient sat quietly in her hospital bed at Truman Medical Center, malnourished and weak. When her visitor, a student member of the UMKC School of Medicine Gold Humanism Honor Society, gave the woman a rose and a Valentine’s Day card, the woman returned the favor with a big hug.
Melony Chakrabarty, MS 6, co-president of the SOM chapter of the GHHS, said stories like that were commonplace this past Valentine’s Day as members of the GHHS delivered nearly 350 roses and 200 Valentine’s Day cards to patients throughout the hospital.
The endeavor was part of a nationwide movement, initiated by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, which sponsors the GHHS.
“We get so caught up in our day-to-day routines, to have that one-on-one interaction with the patients was really special,” Chakrabarty said. “We saw so many ear-to-ear smiles that day.”
GHHS members at schools across the country participated in similar events. Congress even passed a resolution on Feb. 14 designating the day the National Solidarity Day for Compassionate Patient Care.
The Gold Foundation sought the resolution to express the importance of compassionate care as demonstrated in particular by Randall Friese, M.D., the triage physician at the University of Arizona Medical Center who treated Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords after she was shot by holding her hand and reassuring her.
“At the Gold Foundation, we took this as a way to recommit our empathy to our patients,” said Carol Stanford, M.D., ’79, associate professor of medicine and Gold 5 Docent, who serves as faculty sponsor for the UMKC chapter of the GHHS. “This is our way to display our caring and compassion, showing our empathy to patients. And it shows that Gold Humanism students are indeed exemplary and model that compassionate behavior to other students.”
Each spring, the School of Medicine chapter inducts a new class of students, residents and faculty into the GHHS. This year the group will welcome 16 students, three residents and two new faculty members into the organization that honors excellence in clinical care, leadership, compassion and dedication to service.
Chakrabarty said the group enlisted the help of other students to sign and decorate the Valentine’s cards. About 10 students and Stanford then spent a good portion of the day delivering flowers and cards and spending time with patients.
“We had a rainbow of roses,” Stanford said. “You could smell us coming.”