Fort Myers resident Patty Doyle was experiencing excruciating back pain. Her pain management physician, Dr. Jonathan Daitch, ordered an MRI to assure proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Claustrophobic and anxious, Patty opted for an open MRI at Lee Memorial Health System’s Outpatient Center at Riverwalk.
“That was my first MRI,” Patty recalls. “I was practically in tears because I didn’t want to do it. But, the MRI technologist, Cindy Huitema, was amazing—she made the experience tolerable. She talked to me the entire time, and she didn’t make me feel like there was something wrong with me or that I was wasting her time.”
That first MRI, which was in March, focused on Patty’s lower back. In late July, Dr. Daitch ordered a second MRI to get a better view of Patty’s middle and upper back.
“With the second MRI, I knew I was going to be more closed in and I was terrified,” Patty says. “Cindy was there again—thank goodness—because if she wasn’t there, I would have bolted.”
Patty shares that not only did Cindy remember her, she made accommodations to be with her for the entire procedure. “Cindy asked Peter Kouba [lead MRI technologist] to perform the MRI, so she could sit by me and hold my hand. She read the newspaper to me throughout the procedure to help me cope with my claustrophobia. She and Peter were amazing.”
Patty says she understands that because nurses, doctors and health care providers see illness, disease and pain every single day, they often have to detach themselves from situations in order to perform their job and treat their patients. “I felt like Cindy and Peter didn’t detach themselves from me; instead they attached themselves for that time period,” Patty says. “Even though they may not have understood the pain or fears I was experiencing, I felt like they wanted to understand. They were respectful, kind and provided the best care.
“As much as I appreciate Cindy and Peter, and as wonderful as they are, I hope I am done with the MRIs,” Patty says.
Patty’s story reminds us that it often is the small gestures, the personal touches that make all the difference in reducing stress and improving the patient experience.