My younger sister, Joan, called me late one night to tell me that she had been admitted from her doctor’s office to the Intensive Care Unit of her local hospital with an unknown infection that had caused kidney and liver failure. She hadn’t felt good for a couple of months. Although my sister said that she’d be out of the hospital in a few days, nonetheless, I caught the first plane the next morning and flew across the country.
During the first week, she improved and was sent to a regular hospital room. The doctor said that she could be released after the weekend. However, her blood pressure kept dropping and she went back to the ICU, where everything failed. I was at her side, along with her husband Ed, when she died on February 18, 2012 at 5 AM – two weeks after she had been admitted. She was 59 years old.
Joan was a great person who always cared about others. She had a generous spirit and was unselfish in everything she did. I miss her and think of her every day. My hope is that by recounting her hospital experience, we will exceed patient expectations and enhance the experience that patients have when they are hospitalized.