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No mission is impossible: Regions Hospital’s motto for great patient experience

Intensive Care Unit team helps husband and wife celebrate one last Sukkot together

On Oct.11, 2017, Rabbi Moshe Feller figured he would be spending the last day of Sukkot (pronounced: sue-COAT) without his wife Mindelle for the first time in their 55-year marriage. One of the holiest occasions in the Jewish faith, Sukkot celebrates the end of the harvest season and recognizes Jews’ dependence on God. The week-long holiday is also meant to be celebrated outside, in the open air.

Although Moshe could easily make this trip outdoors, it was quite a different story for Mindelle. She was bedridden and dependent on a respirator in the Regions Hospital Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CICU). And that made a journey outside of her room, much less the hospital, seem impossible.

But “impossible” wasn’t in the vocabularies of CICU charge nurse Katy Mulvihill, CCRN, and rest of her team that fall day.

“I remember Mindelle telling us almost every day that she just wanted to get going and get outside,” Katy said. “So one day, I just thought, ‘Why not? I don’t think there’s any actual reason we can’t get her outside, so let’s do it.’ I made it my little project for the day.”

At first, Katy didn’t know just how special it would be for Mindelle to get some fresh air that specific day. But when she talked to Moshe about it, she learned her “little Oct. 11 project” was actually even sweeter.

“The day Katy picked was the very last day of Sukkot,” Moshe said. “I was so happy when she told me. It had been beyond my thinking that it would be possible.”

Regions: A hospital full of supporters

When Katy shared the day’s significance with her colleagues at Regions, it became an all-hands-on-deck effort to get Mindelle outside.

Mindelle’s respiratory therapist, Mary, measured doorways and medical equipment to ensure the transport would be a success. Rachel, a nurse in the CICU, came in on short notice to help with unit staffing. And, at 11 a.m., a whole team of supporters began transporting Mindelle from her room – where she had spent the last 72 days – to the airy patio outside of the Regions Burn Center. Even Burn Center PCAs were on standby to lend support.

“The accommodation by Regions was amazing,” Moshe said. “They turned themselves upside down to make it happen.”

A day with so much meaning

On the patio, Moshe had set up a Sukkah – a ceremonial, tent-like structure where Jews pray, eat and spend time during Sukkot. Mindelle was finally able to enjoy the scenery of a beautiful October day. And in the face of the seemingly impossible, Moshe and Mindelle were able to spend Sukkot the way they had each of the 54 years prior: together.

“It was the sunniest, warmest day of the whole time we were in the hospital,” Moshe said. “My wife heard me do the blessings in the Sukkah, which was spiritually uplifting. And it was also, I believe, very therapeutic.”

Although Mindelle couldn’t speak at the time, Moshe is certain the experience was one of pure joy for her, too.

“She was beaming,” Moshe said. “I can’t imagine how meaningful it was to her.”

What patient experience is all about

Sadly, 2017 was the last year Mindelle and Moshe would be able to celebrate Sukkot together. Less than two months later, on Dec. 6, Mindelle passed away after a hard-fought journey with heart failure.

“The day was even more meaningful because it was the very last time my wife would see a Sukkah,” Moshe said. “The perseverance of Katy and the CICU team was amazing. They were terrific. Katy and all the others made it happen when I never thought it was possible.”

“Doing stuff like this is just so important for a patient’s morale,” Katy said. “When they’re here so long and everything looks bleak, it’s so great to give them a little light in their day. It gives them a chance for some normalcy. If we can make something like this work for our patients, why not do it?”

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