“Oh, there’s no place like home for the holidays
‘Cause no matter how far away you roam
When you pine for the sunshine of a friendly gaze
For the holidays you can’t beat home, sweet home.”
-Perry Como, 1954
We dedicate this edition of the RACmonitor eNews to the caregivers and their patients who won’t be home for the holidays this year. In today’s edition you’ll read a heartwarming story about “Carl,” a friend of Ronald Hirsch, MD, whose early casual friendship morphed into Hirsch becoming Carl’s medical advocate. Juliet B. Ugarte Hopkins, MD, also has a touching holiday tale to tell. Michael Salvatore, MD, writes of finding his calling in palliative care. Mark Spivey, RACmonitor national correspondent, reports on the lump of coal home health agencies found in their stockings. And RACmonitor investigative reporter and New York attorney Edward Roche, founder of Barraclough, LLC, reminds us of the suicide rate and its causes among physicians – harkening, perhaps, to the last chapter of the holiday classic It’s a Wonderful Life.
For even more inspiration, we also turned to James Jones, MD, the vice president of administration at Mount Sinai Health System in New York. In an email to RACmonitor he talked about what it’s like to be a physician and what continues to inspire him.
“Being a doctor is a hard-earned privilege. The process usually begins with the simple notion of wanting to help others,” Jones wrote.
“Through years of hard work guided by education and apprenticeship, the reward comes in the form of fancy robes, a diploma, and the right to affect humanity,” Jones continued. “Through time, the profession becomes a job and through various pressures, the goal is sometimes blurred.”
Jones also wrote that holidays are a special time for all people.
“There is a certain happiness in the air and the smiles are just a bit wider in our offices,” he said. “At the same time, grieving also sometimes takes on some extra meaning, and we are particularly sensitive to the season and the sensitivities of the families whose loved ones we treat.”
“Some of the busiest days in the ED (emergency department) are the days after holidays,” added Jacob N. “Jake” Erickson, MD, attending ED physician at Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown, Penn. and the brother of Monique Fayad, CEO of ICDLogic. “(We) will usually see (abdominal) pains, non-significant chest pains, back pains that people will usually put off until holiday is over. Therefore, usually on holidays I will see things that people can’t put off (falls, fractures, motor vehicle accidents, significant traumas).”
Erickson said he has performed some mental health evaluations due to depression and suicidal thoughts on holidays, often brought on by loneliness.
As for why he chose a career in medicine, Erickson said the movies gave him that inspiration: “(I was) always fascinated with the person in the movies who could save someone’s life,” he wrote.
“He/she seemed very important. I wanted to be that person. I think everyone wishes to be a hero. Every day I save a life in the ED, I feel like a hero.”
For Jones at Mount Sinai, holidays are not dissimilar from other days that are filled with “triumph and challenges,” he wrote.
“However, these both take on a stronger meaning and truly it becomes a time to come back to the beginning notion of how medicine is a privilege and honor, and how we affect humanity every day with the intent to heal, bring comfort, and sometimes resolution to the lives we touch,” he wrote.
From all of us at RACmonitor and Monitor Mondays, happy holidays this season, wherever you are.