Nov 15, 2011

IHI Open School San Antonio Chapter shines in photo campaign

This fall, the IHI Open School launched a photo campaign to promote empathy, compassion, and patient- and family-centered care. We asked students, residents, faculty, and health professionals to put themselves in the shoes of a patient for one day and take a picture.

As you can see from the colorful collage here, the response was wonderful.
One chapter, the IHI Open School San Antonio Chapter, took center stage. Turning it into a Chapter activity, the members visited a local health care facility and snapped dozens of colorful pictures.

We asked them a Chapter leader Jessica Schwartz, a health care administration student at Trinity University, a few questions about the experience:

Why did you get involved in the photo campaign?
One of our faculty advisors called my attention to this photo campaign and I’m so glad that she did! The concept of asking future healthcare professionals to stop what they’re doing and force themselves to see healthcare from a different perspective is such a valuable opportunity. This process of viewing something familiar from a different vantage point can be quite educational, but also brings us back to what’s important: patient care.

Where did you go to take the pictures?
The Center for the Intrepid in Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Recurrent images of the patient’s perspective are generally in civilian hospitals and portray something negative. We decided to show something different. San Antonio has a large military population and unprecedented capabilities to not only treat them, but bring them to a level of physical and emotional strength thought to be impossible given these injuries.

Center for the Intrepid is an outpatient rehabilitation facility for soldiers who are active duty or veterans. This nationally recognized Armed Forces Rehabilitation Center was donated by more than 600,000 Americans. It offers state-of-the-art facilities for amputees and burn victims. Members of IHI Open School San Antonio were graciously welcomed into this incredible place to capture the miracles that occur there on a daily basis. The pictures that we have submitted include their “clinical, research, and administrative space, a gait lab, a computer assisted rehabilitation environment, a pool, an indoor running track, a two-story climbing wall, and a prosthetic fabrication lab” (CFI brochure).

Who knew the patient’s perspective could be so inspiring?

What were you looking for when you took the pictures?
I tried to capture a day in the life of a patient at Center for the Intrepid. This includes rehab facilities and prosthetics of all kinds in a military setting. I hoped to relay frustration, confusion, and loss, coupled with inspiration, perseverance, and strength.

What was the best picture you took? Why?
Sorry, but I have two! No. 6 and No. 11. (Both are below.)

Picture No. 6 is a detailed aerial view of many of the physical therapy exercises with natural light shining in on the beautiful facilities. It is evident here that you really have to put in work to improve.

Picture No. 11 is a simple image, but very impactful. Two prosthetic legs are seemingly crossed and casually leaning against the table, as if they were already attached to a human being. The running shoes send a powerful message to me. These are not ordinary walking shoes; it is clear that this person was/will be a competitive runner and/or is training for a physical challenge. This describes the majority of patients who come into CFI. They have been physically and mentally strong, focused, and competitive and they will do anything to return to that elite level. Of course there are running shoes already attached to prosthetics.

What lessons did you learn from participating?
I am thankful for this opportunity to further appreciate not only the patient perspective, but also the wounded soldier perspective and road to recovery. In addition to the outstanding capabilities of this facility, I was reminded how important the patient-provider relationship is for a full recovery. Both the patient and the providers (physicians, trainers, etc.) give over 100% every day to yield the best possible result. I walked out of there with a new view of patient care and a new perspective on life.