Parkland Medical Center - November 19, 2015

Every year, on Veteran’s Day, we take time to formally recognize heroes who have put their lives on the line to serve our country. As a nation we honored veterans last week and just a few days later, the world was tragically reminded how important these heroes are. The world we live in necessitates a strong military to protect the freedoms we have worked so hard to attain, but often take for granted. I’m as guilty as anyone for losing perspective sometimes and lamenting about insignificant headaches… delayed flights and slow internet connections are just a couple of ‘problems’ many in the world would love to have. My perspective was appropriately adjusted this week after some time with veterans currently working at Parkland Medical Center.

I invited the veterans on staff for a lunch and discussion to express appreciation and listen to their stories about military service and the perspective that service brings. First, I was amazed at the response and leadership support to make this luncheon happen on such short notice. My only regret was not doing this sooner as it turned out to be one of the more rewarding hours of my career. What a privilege it was to sit down with nearly a dozen veterans who so readily and candidly shared their stories with each other and truly connected on what is clearly a lifelong bond. As I looked around the room, I was also amazed that I knew many (most) by name. As much as I try, it’s difficult to remember all the names of nearly 600 employees at Parkland (but I’m working on it!). As formal and informal leaders, these veterans represented the very best and it was a powerful reminder of not just the skill, but the attitude, that military service brings. It wasn’t by chance that this group, most of whom I did not know were veterans prior to lunch, stood out to me and our leadership team as high performers who represented our mission, vision, and values so consistently. As HCA’s Senior Vice President of Human Resources (John Steele) said so well in last week’s communication:

“We have seen the positive effect and exceptional work ethic these men and women bring to our organization. Veterans have the ability to lead and to follow procedures thoughtfully and thoroughly; they are self-disciplined, honorable and truthful and are extraordinary team members. Our military veteran colleagues’ desire to serve our country transitions effortlessly to serving the needs of our patients.”

As we went around the room during lunch these qualities were brought to light by Parkland’s veterans who shared their thoughts on how military service prepared them for what they do today in our hospital. “Responsibility” and “personal accountability” were high on the list along with a “no excuse attitude.” They learned that “mistakes can mean people around you die” (certainly true in the healthcare setting as well). Many shared that the military saved their life by putting them on a better path. Ultimately, the experience rewarded them with a new perspective that provided “humility” and a “greater sense of appreciation.”

Veterans (from left): Isaac Ramos, Army; Dana Deboard, Army; Joseph Amico, Sr., Navy; Melissa Young, Navy; Eugene Rehse, Air Force; Michael Culbert, Army; Raymond Lacroix, Air Force; Jill Piasecki, Army; Richard Cina, Navy/Army; Craig Iannotti, Navy; Matthew Evans, Army

Directly from a few of our Veterans on how their experience helped shape them:

“Responsibility, attention to detail and doing what needs to be done no matter how you feel.”
Craig Iannotti – RN, Behavioral Health

“The Army taught me how to deal with staff and patients from all walks of life. It also influenced my leadership style and put many things into perspective.”
Mike Culbert – Clinical Coordinator, Nuclear Medicine

“The main thing the military teaches is the importance of team work in achieving goals. It definitely fits right in with today’s healthcare systems.”
Ray Lacroix – RRT, Respiratory Therapy

“The military taught me how to do my job right the 1st time, it taught me how to respond to crisis and adversity.”
Dana Deboard – Clinical Coordinator, Cath Lab

“Service has provided me with an increased sense of duty, humility, and confidence.”
Jill Piasecki – Clinical Coordinator, Radiology

We are truly blessed to have such exceptional people in the Parkland family. I apologize to those veterans we may have missed but thank you to all Parkland veterans for the service you have given to our country and for the service you continue to give our community.