Since beginning her career in health care and joining Lovelace Health System in 2010, Melanie Trujeque knew she worked for an organization dedicated to doing what is best for patients. Melanie witnessed that commitment to the mission among leaders, providers, nurses and staff as she grew in her career from a customer service coordinator to serving as the executive assistant for Lovelace UNM Rehabilitation Hospital CEO Derrick Jones. “The compassion for patients is from the top all the way throughout the organization,” Melanie shares of recently spending two months working in the division office. Then life placed her on the other side of the patient experience. “You hear we are all part of this mission. It is just different when you’re part of it.”
Temporarily serving in the division office as the executive assistant to Lovelace Health System President and CEO Ron Stern, Melanie was eager to adapt to this new role. However, shortly after making the transition, her daughter was hospitalized at Lovelace Women’s Hospital at 35 weeks pregnant. “There were some scary times,” Melanie recalls. “I was very worried about my daughter and my grandson and also having to take time off. I had committed to being there.” Ron quickly assured Melanie she had his support to be by her daughter’s side. “He and Janelle practically pushed me out.”
“It gave me a different perspective,” she adds of experiencing Lovelace, not as an employee, but as a family member of a patient. “I had not had that experience before. Every person we met – the physicians, nurses, dietary, housekeeping and all staff -- made me feel that we were all on the same team. We were all focused on my daughter and my grandson.”
Baby Timothy was born on Valentine’s day, weighing a little over four pounds. He spent nearly two weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) gaining the strength to go home. “I could not have had a better experience,” Melanie says of the team at Lovelace Women’s Hospital who embodied the mission of doing what is best for patients every day. “It made me realize how much our physicians, nurses and staff really do care, and the lifelong impact we have on patients.”
In the office, Melanie says she received that same level of care and concern. “They encouraged me to take longer lunches to see Timothy in the NICU,” she says. “It made me realize that it doesn’t matter the facility or level within Lovelace, we really have heart. At the end of the day, we’re there for the patient. We all carry that mission.”
Melanie recognized the unique opportunity she had to share her experience when she returned to her position at Lovelace UNM Rehabilitation Hospital. “Going through this helps me keep it in the forefront,” she says. “When I came back, I spoke about my experience with our managers and our staff. It is clear that we, as a system, have the same mission and vision from the CEO of Lovelace to the CEO of our facility, the CEO of Lovelace Women's Hospital and the CEO of our parent company, Ardent Health Services. The patient is at the center of it all.”
Further connected to the purpose personally, Melanie says she is more keenly aware of each individual’s impact on the patient experience. “We have ‘clap outs’ at the rehab hospital when patients get to go home,” she shares. “Everyone lines the halls and cheers for the patient. I get more teary-eyed than I used to, because I hadn’t had that patient experience before. It makes me realize how much our physicians, nurses and each clinical and non-clinical staff member do for patients every moment, every day.”
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