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New Patient Story

  • Featuring: Johnny Hamilton
  • Date Submitted: Apr 24, 2024
Meet Guggie, also known as Carolyn Herron, my mother-in-law and great grandmother. I’ve known her since I was 16 years old. I heard stories of how she graduated from Harvard with her Bachelors and then Dillard to work on her doctorate degree- and how she marched with Martin Luther King back in the day. Over the last three and a half decades, she has been an important love in my life. In the past few years, she has been steadily declining, eventually requiring 24-hour supervision and hospice services as dementia and other ailments have been taking their toll on her. However, the person supervising her care last year was unqualified to do so, and Guggie was in needless, constant pain. My wife, Terri, and I had been endured long-standing legal battles with this person and daily three-hour round-trip visits to try to provide Guggie with the right care. Terri and I were near our wits end when we were finally able to switch her hospice care provider. I figured Providence could help, but I didn’t know who to talk to. So, I sent an email to a bunch of Providence caregivers, hoping to get some help. Matt Gonzalez, chief medical officer at the Institute of Human Caring, responded almost immediately. That day, Terri and I talked with Matt and shared our story. Then something unexpected happened. Matt listened with real empathy. He created and held space to honor what we were feeling. We were seen, valued, and supported. And then he provided a solution- Providence Hospice, and he already made a soft introduction to a contact he has. I was relieved to have found a solution. And I was inspired by what Matt modeled for me. He could have easily emailed me the contact for Providence Hospice- I know he’s busy. But he chose to live into Our Promise- to know me, care for me, and ease my way. This was not a mere information transaction- for me, I was elevated and it was a moment of transformation. I wondered how could I create opportunities in my life and work, like Matt did, to ease the way of others. And I strive to do that everyday now. Epilogue: I'm a manager of learning innovation at Providence and Matt reached out to our team last year to re-imagine their Advanced Communication Training. Matt and I both had the idea of leveraging Large Language Models such as ChatGPT to help our caregivers safely and easily practice how to have difficult conversations, anytime and anywhere. Matt coded a prototype and has been leading the development of such an AI-powered tool so more providers can learn, practice, and apply the skills needed to have an empathic conversation. I've been building a business case to take Matt's prototype into many other conversations such as leadership, Diversity/Equity/Inclusion, and more. This is a shining example of how Providence is leading the way at the intersection of technology and compassion.