My wife’s sister spent a semester abroad when she was a junior in college. Ann minored in French and she lived and studied in Besançon, a town south of Paris. During the months Ann was there, first her parents and then my wife and I visited her. During our visit, Ann took us to a restaurant that she had been to during the visit with her parents. Because I could not read French, Ann helped me navigate the menu. She pointed out an appetizer that her dad had gotten which I decided to try.
When the first round of food was delivered to our table, my selection for an appetizer looked like a 5″x5″ cube of Vaseline with an egg, pieces of ham, celery, and other items suspended within the translucent cube. I decided to try it, and it tasted an awful lot like… a cube of Vaseline with an egg, pieces of ham, celery, and other items. Trying not to show visible signs of disdain, I said, “Boy, Ann, this really does not taste that good.” She then replied, “Yeah, my dad didn’t like it either.”
That is when I learned the value of additional information obtained from a good follow-up question: after finding out what my father-in-law had ordered, I should have asked if he had liked it.
Patient history and physicals (H&Ps) are a fundamental aspect of obtaining information about the patients we serve within CURE International. In the context of CURE Clubfoot Worldwide (CCW) programs, the counselor is key to this information gathering and note-taking. Pertinent information is often found out through follow-up interactions with the parent, as well as by the counselor interacting with other members on or close to the clinic team. Sharing this information with members of the team and placing it in the patient’s chart is essential for more complete information about the patient to be known by everyone. The same is true about our care coordinators serving in CURE Hydrocephalus locations alongside our trained surgeons.
Our most effective counselors and care coordinators have learned to effectively listen to what parents are telling them and, as a result, ask for additional valuable information. Since CURE’s approach intends to be holistic, when parents share about issues that are not directly medical in nature – like stresses at home, or fears about the future health of the child, or pressures from the community to send the deformed child away – it can help the counselor understand the priorities of the parent and family, to help alleviate concerns, and to abate misconceptions which may be based upon inadequate information.
Our counselors and care coordinators speak with parents whose spouse has left because of the hardships caring for a “special needs” child represents. Our team speaks with parents who have resisted great community pressure to get rid of their unusually deformed child. Through displays of compassion and information about the course of care we offer, a small idea of hope for the future can form along with a commitment to stay the course of treatment for the sake of the child.
I am grateful for each CCW counselor and CURE Hydrocephalus care coordinator who serves with us in CURE International. Their collective work helps ensure compliance by patient families through better and more accurate information, and, thus, provides opportunities for complete physical healing and lifting a downcast spirit. Thank you to everyone who supports our work to give us these chances of blessing and success.