When Arlene Miller was diagnosed with cancer seven years ago, she came to Hoag and not only found world class medical care but also an enduring sense of family. “Where else in the world can you find such sincere and caring people like you do at Hoag,” asks her husband, Jim Ericson, who has been her constant companion through every routine and emergency encounter, never leaving her side.
Arlene recalls her frightening episode with e-coli sepsis in 2011; she was rushed to the Joan & Andy Fimiano Emergency Pavilion with a 104-degree fever. Weston G. Chandler, M.D., and his team put her on life-support for six days followed by another week of intensive care. This was the beginning of a personal relationship with the entire staff at Hoag which has endured and strengthened ever since.
Jim and Arlene recall so many moments of what they call “Hoag Hospitality:” the excellent medical expertise of the doctors, nurses, nurses’ aides and the “support troops” in transportation, housekeeping, food service and all the other functions that make the hospital such a special organization.
Among their extended family is Lorena, who serves on the Hoag housekeeping staff. She and Arlene formed a special bond when they both shared the losses of their mothers. Lorena confided that she hoped her mother would send her a special sign that they had between them: a white flower. One morning, Arlene opened her front door and there was a pot of white daisies that a neighbor had left as a gift. Remembering Lorena’s hope, Arlene knew these daises were not for herself. The reaction of Lorena when presented with her mother’s sign was tearful. Linda, an RN on duty, happened to see Lorena’s emotional reaction. After Arlene explained the circumstances, Linda told her, “Arlene, you’re not just a patient here, you’re family.”
In the way of all families, each member knows when things aren’t quite right. Arlene had been recovering from a procedure when she was interviewed about her medical condition by an outside instructor one morning. Her assigned nurse’s aide, Ignacio (known famously as “Iggy”), came in with a Hoag volunteer for a routine check. Arlene was very upset, and Iggy noticed her distress.
“He took my hand and said, ‘I’ve never seen you like this. Please tell me what’s wrong,’” she recalls. Iggy’s reaction was immediate. He informed the nurse of the incident and she made sure that outside instructor was not to see Arlene again. Throughout the day, Iggy paid close attention to make sure Arlene was comfortable.
“Everyone we’ve met at Hoag is like this” Arlene says. “In many respects, every visit is like a ‘family reunion’ from the Emergency Department, to East & West buildings and radiology. We always remind ourselves how blessed we are to have Hoag and its people to share their professionalism and support. This is why we always make sure to include Hoag in our annual giving. It might be modest, but we feel it is important to give our support.”
For more information on how you can support Hoag, please visit www.hoagpromise.org.