Mansfield resident Linda Ordway cares for patients awaiting heart transplants
Boston, MA – The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening the relationship between patients and caregivers, has announced that Linda Ordway, a nurse practitioner in the Cardiac Transplant Center at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, has been selected as one of five finalists for its prestigious Schwartz Center Compassionate Caregiver Award®.
The winner will be announced at the Kenneth B. Schwartz Compassionate Healthcare Dinner on Thursday, November 17th, at the Boston Convention Center. The other four finalists will also be recognized and honored. The dinner is one of the largest healthcare events in New England; last year, more than 2,000 healthcare providers, patients, and families attended.
“In light of a national survey last year showing that only about half of patients believe the U.S. healthcare system is a compassionate one, we are pleased to be able to highlight caregivers like Linda who are providing compassionate care and making a huge difference in the lives of patients and families,” said Schwartz Center Executive Director Julie Rosen.
Linda Ordway, a resident of Mansfield, delivers care in a unit that houses an extremely vulnerable patient population. All of her patients are either waiting for a new heart, or have just received a heart transplant. Ranging in age from the late teens through the 70s, her patients come from a variety of backgrounds, education levels, cultures, and nationalities. She is attuned to each of their situations and recognizes the burden that patients bear in waiting for someone else to die so they can live.
“Linda has the capacity to take on the perspectives of both patients and families,” says Mary Lou Von Euw, Tufts Medical Center’s interfaith chaplain. “She is acutely aware that the roller coaster ride to heart transplant and beyond can be devastatingly disruptive to the entire family, and she does everything in her power to ease the stress.” For example, she played a major role in spearheading a new hospital visitation policy, which expanded and tailored visiting hours to the individual needs of intensive care unit patients and their families.
“She uses her camera, not just for taking pictures of wounds and devices, but for capturing poignant moments in the lives of her patients and their families,” Von Euw says. “I can still see the photo she took of one of her patients, a young woman who was standing with her suitcase-sized Bi-VAD heart pump, waving goodbye to her daughter as she climbed onto the school bus on her first day of kindergarten.”
According to Tufts Medical Center President and CEO Eric Beyer, “We are extremely proud of Linda Ordway, as both our first-ever finalist for the Schwartz Center Compassionate Caregiver Award and as the perfect candidate for this prestigious honor. Linda genuinely cares for her patients as if they were family members or close friends. She goes beyond just providing medical care and understands that the mental and spiritual aspects of care are often just as important as a patient’s physical condition.”
Linda says that maintaining a patient’s dignity is vital to patient care. “We as nurses should always treat people with dignity,” she says. “Compassion means not judging patients, always getting to know them as individuals, and trying to understand what is meaningful to them.”
The finalists were selected by a review committee based on how well they embody the characteristics of compassionate care, which include effective communication and emotional support, mutual trust and respect, involving patients and families in healthcare decisions, and treating patients as people, not just illnesses. Approximately 100 caregivers from throughout New England were nominated this year.
The Schwartz Center Compassionate Caregiver Award is made possible in part by the generosity of AstraZeneca, a leading pharmaceutical company.
The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare (www.theschwartzcenter.org) was founded in 1995 by Ken Schwartz, a Boston healthcare attorney who died of lung cancer at the age of 40 and found that what mattered to him most was the compassionate care he received from his caregivers, which he said “made the unbearable bearable.” He established the Schwartz Center just days before his death to ensure that all patients receive compassionate care.
The Center’s signature program is Schwartz Center Rounds®, which has been adopted by hundreds of hospitals and other healthcare institutions across the country. The program provides a safe place where caregivers from multiple disciplines can come together on a regular basis to discuss the challenging emotional and social issues that arise in caring for patients. The program has been found to enhance compassionate care, improve teamwork, and reduce caregiver stress and isolation. The Schwartz Center also develops and funds other innovative programs, recognizes and honors outstanding caregivers, and supports policies that promote and advance compassionate care.
About Tufts Medical Center and Floating Hospital for Children
Tufts Medical Center is an exceptional, not-for-profit, 415-bed academic medical center that is home to both a full-service hospital for adults and Floating Hospital for Children. Conveniently located in downtown Boston, the Medical Center is the principal teaching hospital for Tufts University School of Medicine. Floating Hospital for Children is the full-service children's hospital of Tufts Medical Center and the principal pediatric teaching hospital of Tufts University School of Medicine. Tufts Medical Center is affiliated with the New England Quality Care Alliance, a network of more than 1,800 physicians throughout Eastern Massachusetts. For more information, please visit www.tuftsmedicalcenter.org.
Media Contact: Petra Langer