Opinion
11:10 am
Tue March 3, 2009

Commentary: In Praise of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute

Buffalo, NY – This story is about a lesson in professionalism, kindness and compassion, and about a jewel of a facility were have right here in Western New York. I had a MRI of my head in October to address some dizziness I was experiencing over the summer. The results were not what I expected. By chance, it was discovered that there was a mass growing behind my thyroid and on my upper throat. My Ear Nose and Throat doctor didn't hesitate and said go see the top head and neck surgeon in these parts, Dr. Thom Loree at Roswell Park. It's the wonderful experience my wife and I had at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute that I want to share with you.

I remember Roswell as being an old, sad, shabby place, across the street from Buffalo General hospital, and, constantly under construction. No more. It is a first rate, modern and beautiful facility. However, it's the people in the facility that make it really special.

Upon entering the immense lobby, you get the impression of a place with a mission. Unlike many hospitals, the staff at registration didn't treat me as a number on an assembly line. They were personable and friendly. Beyond that, they showed you that they cared. Because waiting to see your busy doctor is the norm, they give you a paging buzzer like at big restaurants so you can go to the cafeteria, the coffee shop or to sit and listen to the live piano playing in the lobby. The time passed. We finally got to see Dr. Loree. A tall, no-nonsense professional who lived up to his reputation as being extremely thorough, spending an hour with us discussing what this mass might be, further tests, how he would remove it and how he would go out of his way to protect my voice, which is what I make a living with. After some follow-up, we scheduled surgery for January 20th.

Aside from having my tonsils out in 1961, when I was three, I had no experience for a frame of reference of what having a major operation would be like. Thinking about the upcoming surgery for over a month before hand was a challenge. However, seeing the professionalism and efficiency at Roswell gave me great comfort. It turned out the waiting was the hardest part.

As I was rolled into the OR, I saw bright lights and a large team of professionals in their scrubs, standing at attention, waiting to do battle. Any lingering fears melted away, along with my consciousness.

My surgery went extremely well and, as soon as I awoke, or so it seemed, I was wheeled into my room.

The staff in Post-op Ward 7 East at Roswell was the best part. My room was clean, and our every need was attended to, including the ongoing effort to get me into a comfortable position. My nurse, Dianne hovered over me, making sure I was ok. The night orderly, Dave, even got my wife a cot to sleep on so she could stay with me overnight. We'll always remember that kindness and attention to detail.

Within a few hours, I was up and walking. First, with Dave's help and encouragement and then on my own. In fact I started doing laps around the wing with the nurses timing me.

In total I think we were there for only 30 hours from admission to when I briskly walked out. After a week at home, I'm ready to get on with my life.

In retrospect, it was clear to me that the entire staff at Roswell was dedicated to us having a wonderfully positive experience while we were there. I found it in every little thing they did. Finding that sort of commitment to excellence is an example we can all learn from. Thank you Roswell Park Cancer Institute!

Listener-Commentator Dan Lenard runs his own professional voice talent company in Amherst.

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