Heartbroken - how to thank the docs/staff who patched me up
October 14, 2015 9:42 PM   Subscribe

How would you express your thanks, in the form of a group gift, to medical professionals in two offices -- which would include cardiac surgeon and his huge staff + a cardiologist and his smaller staff -- when you're barely making it down the stairs at this point and can't shop in person?

So I am exactly -- to the day -- 4 months out from emergency triple-bypass surgery after a heart attack. I'm female, 62, I had atypical symptoms which contributed to this being an emergency situation. I did not get to choose my surgeons or cardiologist, but I think I got lucky, especially in terms of surgery and aftercare, which included multiple complications.

As I'm struggling with a longer-than-anticipated recovery, it occurs to me that I need to thank these folks and their separate staffs with a tangible gift. Of course I've said my thank-yous in the hospital and at every follow-up visit but ... something more is called for. In response to a "I don't know how to thank you" comment the surgeon always replies "Don't worry, just thank my staff" which I do verbally. But that's not enough.

So I have in mind some kind of (food?) gift basket for each office (the surgeon has a huge staff, cardiologist a smaller staff) and perhaps a basket of stress toys that might be left in the office for staff or patients? I used to scatter stress toys in my office when I was working, and people would stop by specifically to handle them. Does that sound okay? Odd? Can you think of something better, more appropriate, more fun?

I am not in good executive functioning shape these days, frankly I'm a mess, as this is not my only health issue -- so specific suggestions and or links would be greatly appreciated.

I've witnessed the amazing ideas you folks have come up with in response to questions, so I would be so grateful if you would help me express my appreciation to these physicians, PAs, NPs, RNs and office staff.

TL;DR: Thank you gifts for surgeon and cardiologist and other professionals/office staff? Separate offices. How would you do this? What would you send and when?
posted by alwayson_slightlyoff to Grab Bag (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm so glad you're here with us so you can ask this question! I agree your verbal thank you's are enough, but if you wanted to send a gift basket maybe an edible arrangement or fruit basket? It's healthier than sweets or cookies (which seems appropriate given the specialty). Here are some options:

Harry and David

Edible Arrangements

Shari's Berries dipped strawberries (no sugar added, but they have sugary ones)
posted by cecic at 10:03 PM on October 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Mom was a nurse, and after all of my and my sibs' medical escapades, she always buys lunch for the nursing team. Buying a boxed lunch is reasonable for, say, a dozen people, while a floor full of people means a pile of pizzas is more on par.
posted by Sunburnt at 10:03 PM on October 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have on good authority that hospital staff really appreciate when someone brings/sends free food. Doesn't have to be fancy. I've often seen cards from patients & their families hanging in break rooms. They remember specific patients & would appreciate even just a note of thanks.
posted by univac at 10:09 PM on October 14, 2015

Hi there! Glad you are recovering and that you got awesome care. I'm a coronary care nurse and we get given gifts all the time in my ward. TBH we're all quite stoked with a box of chocolates and a nice card. (Yes I realize the irony of working in cardiovascular health and advocating for sweets.)

I wanted to add it's really nice of you to think of the whole staff. My experience has been that we nurses typically score more gifts than our medical and allied staff, probably because our patients get to know us better. I've often felt it was a bit of a shame that the other staff aren't included (we make a point of making sure they get in on the chocolates or whatever but it's usually an afterthought by the patient themselves). So good on you.

Also if there were any staff that you felt did an extra outstanding job it's nice to write a letter that names them by name. You don't have to do one for each person, just one letter for all is sufficient. Stuff like that makes us feel awesome and can also go in our portfolios and other professional records. Also make sure you fill out a patient satisfaction survey if you've been given one! We are stupidly reliant on these for lots of inside baseball stuff with our managers.

Lastly when you are recovered in a year or so and feeling reasonably back to normal - visit! I get visits from former patients occasionally just to drop by and say hi and let me know how they're doing. It's so gratifying to see people up and well and I always enjoy it.
posted by supercrayon at 10:11 PM on October 14, 2015 [7 favorites]

Big boxes of chocolate.
posted by Oyéah at 10:25 PM on October 14, 2015

COFFEE. I'm a nurse in a break room right now, drinking dunkin donuts that a patient's family dropped off. It's so, so nice. Get them that box o'joe from dunkin donuts. Seriously appreciated.
posted by pintapicasso at 11:44 PM on October 14, 2015

Personally as a doctor I always really appreciate a letter or card. It means a lot that somebody has made the effort to write to me.

For the ward/office staff though, definitely food. Anything from a box of chocolates to a nice fruit basket will be very much appreciated. Maybe speak to the office manager - we get tea and coffee provided already (we all pay a small subscription) so while we'd certainly appreciate the gesture we wouldn't notice much difference if you gave us more coffee. We do actually get given quite a lot of sweet stuff, but even so chocolate, sweets and biscuits never go out of fashion. We never get given fruit, so the guy who brought us a crate of apples from his orchard is still remembered fondly years later.

It's also great that you've remembered the admin team! They usually get forgotten. They are often not on the same floor as the inpatient team, so you may need to get them something separately so they get access to it too. Again, the office manager can advise.
posted by tinkletown at 7:02 AM on October 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

(Physician here): a letter or card is always appreciated. An especially nice gesture is a letter to the higher echelons expressing your satisfaction with/gratitude for your care. You could send this to the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Nursing Officer (or equivalent roles) at the hospital, naming staff by name when possible. For your outpatient team prob send similar letter to the office manager.
Best wishes for your continuing recovery!
posted by maryrussell at 10:51 AM on October 15, 2015 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: First, thanks for the good wishes!

Next, thanks for the good ideas: the mention of coffee jogged my memory (which needs jogging) that the surgeon said he lives on coffee. So yes to that. Those strawberries look so darn good, and are sugar free. And fruit/nuts would be a great addition to coffee and strawberries.

Everyone I want to thank is in-hospital staff (with private or group offices within the hospital) so I'll do personal notes to their respective offices, and separate letters as suggested to the hospital CMO/CNO.

As for the admin staff -- well, they make or break your follow-up visits, don't they? And contact with the physician? One of them is absolutely brilliant at patient contact, great at details and empathetic. She'll be getting a personal thank you, and an enthusiastic note to her boss from me.

stoneweaver what a kind, generous offer. And you made me realize that one of the things I haven't been doing is asking for help. I have a good friend visiting next week and she's very organized. She's been asking "what can I do?" If she can't help with this, you may receive a memail from me, but if not -- know that your offer was well received and also got me to thinking about aspects of my recovery as well.

As far as I'm concerned, all of the above are "best" answers; and, I thank each of you for your helpful responses. Now to get to work making these things happen. :)
posted by alwayson_slightlyoff at 2:16 PM on October 16, 2015

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