I was up with the birds on April fools day this year, because I would attend my 4th annual MQC conference. I had things to do, people to see, experts to learn from, talks to hear and presentations to give. I had materials on Patient Safety to distribute (about 75 lbs of them in a very cumbersome wheeled bag), things to coordinate, and hugs to receive and give. My patient and supportive husband attends with me every year as well.
This has become an annual event for me. I wouldn’t miss it for the world! My very first one was 4 years ago, when Regina Holliday presented and painted. I knew her from a previous conference and in truth, she was one of the very few people I did know at the event. WOW, what a difference this year! My arms are all worn out from all that hugging. I have met and learned from so many of this year’s sold out crowd of over 1100 people. It’s amazing.
We had two incredible keynote speakers, Anne Weiss from the Robert Wood Johnson foundation and Dr Atul Gawande, Author, surgeon, teacher, end of life expert. Both shared ideas, wisdom, modern views of humanizing healthcare and promoting health. We had discussions on public health (by State and Maine Districts), we watched while honorable people were honored with recognition awards. I nominated one of them and I felt like a proud Mom (tears and all) when she accepted her well deserved award.
QC2015 was incredible. Admittedly, when I heard what the theme would be for this year, I didn’t know how I could fit in my message on Patient Safety and healthcare harm. The QC 2015 theme was, Delivering Health or Healthcare. Maybe my problem was with the little word “or”. We need both, for sure, so maybe that word ‘or’ in the title, should have been ‘and’. Then again, we will need less of healthcare when we deliver health. And, if we stay healthy we are naturally safer. But if we do need healthcare, it must be high quality SAFE healthcare! YES….my subject could fit in. However, I had to find a better way to deliver my message than I had done before. Since this conference is a celebration of fine accomplishments and progress, and of hope for a kinder, more efficient and effective healthcare system, my presentation about healthcare harm could not be a downer. Instead of imparting gloom and doom in my presentation, I used humor..which is hard to imagine, and even harder to do, when discussing healthcare harm. I had just 10 minutes to meet this challenge. I was one of 3 in my presentation team talking about Patient partnering, using quality and cost transparency, shared decision making and mutual respect. I created my own Hospital called Safe Hands Hospital. I embraced patients in my presentation….yes, real live people, from our audience, who became fictitious patients. Their 4 stories were created from real stories of patients that I know from my work. For the first time in over 10 years, I had a patient assignment of 4 patients, all at different levels of patient engagement (E patients). It felt so good to go back to my nursing days and to have a duty, to make my patients safer. I gave out token but meaningful and useful gifts to my 4 volunteers, all very good sports. There was loud laughter in our audience, but I hope I relayed a very very serious message. That message was…engaged patients are generally safer patients. People came from other rooms to see what we were up to in our room. There was standing room only. We may have misbehaved in the Capital room, but I think my team and I got our message across very clearly.
I came away from QC 2015 exhausted, happy and smarter. I always learn so much, and when that comes with dozens of hugs from the incredible people I have met on my Patient Safety Advocacy journey, it just makes me want to learn, do and be more.