Barbara Miller: Grateful Patient Pioneers a Volunteer Role in the OR
Ruptured Quadriceps Tendon
If it's Friday morning, Barbara Miller — NEBH Board of Visitors member and former Baptist patient — is in one of the Hospital's operating rooms, working alongside the surgical orderlies. At noon that same day, Mrs. Miller will turn back into a real estate agent and show properties in Wellesley and other suburban Boston towns for a prominent real estate firm.
"It's a marvelous opportunity to be involved with my first love, which is medicine," says the Natick resident, who at one time worked as a sales representative for a biomedical firm and spent time in hospitals and ORs. "I also get to observe up-close the talented people who work at the Baptist. And I'm not just talking about the doctors."
Everyone who works in the ORs understands that the schedule is relentless, and rooms need to be turned over quickly to accommodate the next patient and the next surgical team. Their mantra is "safe and fast" because, in addition to keeping New England Baptist Hospital's surgical suite functioning like a well-oiled machine, they must follow stringent infection control measures. The Baptist's impressively low post-surgical infection rate depends on it.
"That is why we don't jump into volunteerism lightly," says Barbara McKinnon, RN, CNOR, who manages the operating rooms and endoscopy suite. "In fact, during the 32 years I've worked in the OR, we've never had a volunteer here. However, Barbara is motivated and intelligent, and she was willing to complete the full orientation our orderlies receive. When I told the staff she was coming to work with them, I asked that they take care of her."
They did just that, at times whispering in her ear about protocols, such as removing soiled gloves at the appropriate time, and offering tips on other aspects of the job. In Mrs. Miller, they gained a colleague who is a quick learner and willing to work as hard as they do. "I've found some wonderful friends in the OR," says Mrs. Miller. "They've treated me with respect from the beginning, and they've helped me learn so much. I've seen the Baptist from the inside now. What they do to keep their patients safe and assure that they receive high-quality care is tremendously impressive."