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From left, Carrie Braverman, Miriam Mahler, Yvonne Michaud, Charlene Palmer and J. Stephen Bohan were honored at the Thomson Compassionate Care Celebration.
Inspiring stories and examples of compassionate care emanated from the Bornstein Amphitheater last week as this year’s Thomson Leadership, Long-Term and Scholarship award recipients were honored.
“Compassion is the essential element of the interactions we have with each other and with our patients and their families every day,” said BWH President Gary Gottlieb, MD, MBA, to staff, family and friends who packed the Bornstein. “This cornerstone to leadership and exceptional care—as described by Dennis Thomson and exemplified by a decade of Thomson award recipients and scholars—has come to be a hallmark of BWH.”
Robert Barbieri, MD, chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology, introduced Miriam Mahler, CNM, MPH, program director of Midwifery, as the recipient of the Leadership Award, emphasizing her “courage of the heart” in describing the way Mahler perseveres in challenging situations combined with love for her patients.
“For each woman Miriam cares for, the care begins and ends with a hug,” Barbieri said. “In between those bookends is high quality, evidence-based care.”
As Mahler spoke, images of dozens of mothers and babies cared for by midwives at 10 community health centers appeared on a screen behind her. “Our job as midwives is to be the voice for all those who otherwise would have no voice,” she said, overwhelmed with emotion near the end of her speech. “My patients make me laugh, cry, worry and think. But most of all, they make me certain that 35 years ago when I became a midwife, I made the right choice.”
The colleagues of J. Stephen Bohan, MD, MSc, the Long-Term Achievement Award recipient, left no doubt that he also made the right choice by joining BWH in 1993 after 20 years of service in the U.S. Navy.
“Steve has earned unlimited currency with everyone with whom he has interacted,” said Ron Walls, MD, chair of Emergency Medicine. “His credibility is extraordinarily high, and he has a brilliant organizational mind, yet always incorporates the ideas of others, gives them credit and keeps everyone on task.”
Bohan is “an inexhaustible person who approaches every situation with humor, enthusiasm and optimism,” Walls said.
True to character, Bohan had the audience laughing out loud throughout his remarks as he recounted humorous moments from his medical career in the Navy and in the ED at BWH. As usual, he was quick to share credit, citing a long list of colleagues as both individuals and groups, and lauding their contributions to the compassionate care for which the Brigham is renowned.
“Patients come to us to be recognized as individuals, for us to recognize they have a need and to validate that need,” he said. “This honor today is not about me—it’s about us, about the ED and about this special hospital.”
“At BWH, the words Dennis Thomson and compassionate care have become synonymous,” Bohan said to the audience, looking at Betsy Broadman, the widow of Dennis Thomson, who has been a BWHer for the past five years.
During the ceremony, scholarship funds were awarded to three BWHers who will sow the seeds of compassionate care with new projects. Yvonne Michaud, MSN, RN, Trauma Program manager, and Charlene Palmer, MA, Trauma Program administrative assistant, will use the funds to develop a handbook for trauma patients and their families. Carrie Braverman, LICSW, will use her scholarship to develop a peer support program for HIV-positive patients.
“These initiatives represent projects that promise to improve the care we deliver to our patients and their families,” said event emcee Christian Arbelaez, MD, MPH, of Emergency Medicine and a previous recipient of the Thomson Leadership Award.
View a photo gallery from the celebration.