Published July 14, 2014
By Teresa Wenta, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer
I’ve led the Marketing and Communications work at Providence for 16 years. Our team is located at the Pacific Campus, where I sit in a secluded office, in a secluded department, about as far away from patients as you can get. It’s very seldom that I have the opportunity to have direct interaction with patients, so when I found out several months ago that we were all becoming “caregivers”—regardless of our roles—to be honest, it was a bit of a stretch for me. I’m not sure how developing marketing plans or creating ads has much to do with patient care. Then, one day, God sent me a reminder.
I was in my office, staring at 141 unread emails in my inbox, when a man named Mark interrupted me. He had somehow bypassed the switchboard, and was standing in my office doorway wanting me to buy advertising in his Port of Everett directory. I’m ashamed to say my first thought was “I’m really busy… I don’t really have time to talk to you.” Before I had time to say much of anything, Mark told me that his wife, Patty, had unexpectedly become our patient a week earlier. Which is kind of odd, considering Mark and Patty live in Arizona. But they travel 10 months a year, selling advertising in local directories, and that particular week happened to find them in Everett.
Patty had been suffering from extreme pain for quite some time, but multiple visits to a hospital in California two months earlier assured her there was nothing really wrong with her. Fast forward to Everett, and the pain was so great that Mark took Patty to our ER. Through a series of examinations, tests and imaging, it was discovered that Patty not only had four crushed vertebrae, but she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma as well. As Mark told me their story, his voice cracked, his eyes welled up with tears, and he struggled to finish. But as he went on, he referenced their faith in God, and quoted Scripture. I’ve heard that we should meet people where they are, so I asked Mark if I could add Patty and him to my personal prayer list. Then I gave him a document I created a few years ago that included about two dozen Scripture verses meant to offer encouragement in times of trial. I told him I hoped that in their times of greatest need, these words might offer comfort and peace.
Mark went on to tell me what a blessing it was that he and Patty were in Everett, and had come to Providence, as we were the first and only medical providers who cared enough to find out what was really going on. Mark and Patty spent the majority of every day that week meeting with specialists, trying to develop a plan for her care (even though they were only passing through, and needed to return home to Arizona). I don’t know what path Mark and Patty’s journey took them on after they left Providence, but I feel blessed to have been one very small stop along the way. As Mark stood up to leave, I gave him a hug, reminded him I’d be praying for him and Patty, and asked him to let me know how his wife was doing going forward.
A week after I met them, Patty sent me this note: Your encouragement letter you gave Mark last week was such a blessing to the both of us. We read it yesterday morning with praises in our heart and tears in our eyes. God placed Mark in the perfect spot that day in meeting you. We know we will get through this with the strength of the Lord and people like you along our path. The City of Everett has been a blessing and your hospital is unbelievable.
It’s moments like these – sometimes rare but never insignificant – that I thank God I have the privilege of working at Providence. Sure, I’m the Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, but more importantly, I’m a caregiver.