Consultant Says URMC’s ICARE Efforts Are Truly Personal

Researcher at work

Linda Piontek

As a URMC employee or faculty member, you’re hearing an awful lot these days about consistently delivering the “ICARE experience.” But you probably didn’t know that the business is deeply personal for one of our consultants: Linda Piontek.

Piontek is an employee of Brand Integrity, the group working with URMC to bring the ICARE experience to life. We hope that bringing you her family’s true story rejuvenates for you the reasons behind and importance of our ICARE initiative.

Piontek says:

“I have a personal motivation for working with URMC on the ICARE Experience—I know firsthand that every single person who works here has an impact on people who are going through tough times.

Five years ago, my husband was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). He was 53 at the time. Our sons were 11 and 5 years old.

During the two years of my husband’s physical decline, he was cared for at Strong. Some of our experiences with this hospital were great, like the neurologist who made a house call and introduced himself as Bob, rather than Dr. Holloway. He looked around the room, saw my husband’s St. Louis Cardinals hat, and said, “I notice you like baseball.” He talked with my husband about his interests more than about his illness. And that was what mattered most, at that point.

When my husband could no longer move or speak, there was a patient care tech who worked for an hour to get his pillows arranged just right, so he could sleep comfortably. Experiences like those brought light into what was often a very dark time for us. But I’m sorry to say that it wasn’t always that way in our experience with Strong.

We didn’t always experience that kind of caring.

Researcher at work

The Pionteks enjoy a family vacation.

When I learned that, as part of my job at Brand Integrity, I might have the opportunity to work with URMC on the ICARE Experience, I jumped at the chance. Getting to work with you at Strong to help make the ICARE Experience more consistent for patients and families is the silver lining to the cloud of sickness and loss our family went through.

I have a great deal of admiration and appreciation for what you do here every day—and for how hard it can be sometimes. Thank you for the effort you make to help families like mine.”

As you know, it’s likely that each of us, or someone dear to us, will be a patient here at some juncture, and we want your interactions here to echo only those brighter notes in the story above. We want those kinds of overtures, that caliber of caring, to be pervasive—our norm, not the exception to the rule.

Now we call on you, URMC employees, to redouble your ICARE efforts. Try to identify what might matter most to the patient and his loved ones as you take stock of a situation. It could be something as obvious to you as adjusting a chair or bed, or remembering to ask the family members how they’re doing—or it may require a little extra reaching, a little extra noticing, a little extra curiosity.

Sincere thank you to Linda Piontek for candidly sharing her experience with us, as we strive to improve and more consistently live out our core values: Integrity, compassion, accountability, respect, and excellence.

For more on our commitment to ICARE, click here.

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