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Editor's Column: The CEO taps on the door: ‘Did we treat you right?’

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By Brian Melton

I didn’t know who Janice Dabney was when she tapped on the door of my dad’s room just before he checked out of Springs Memorial Hospital for the last time.
It was February 2015, and I had just moved back to Lancaster after four decades away. Dad had spent eight weeks shuttling between Springs Memorial, its two rehab wings and Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte. First an aortic aneurism, then a stroke, and his lymphoma was back.
At 91, he decided no more hospitals, and we told him that was understandable. He passed away at home three months later.
That last hour at Springs, in walked Janice Dabney. The staffers who were packing Dad up stopped what they were doing. I could tell she was in charge and she was there for a reason. She smiled and chatted quietly with Mom and Dad for a few minutes.
“Did we treat you right?” she asked them.
During multiple ER crises during this period, I was always surprised by how quickly and courteously the Springs staff responded. Nurses and doctors were calm, focused and comforting. Within moments of our arrival after the stroke, a neurologist was there on a live two-way video hookup.
I have spent many chaotic, maddening nights in overwhelmed emergency rooms, and I’m sure Springs has its share of those. But when we were there with Dad, the place seemed far more customer focused than big-city hospitals. More attentive most of the time. Kinder almost always.
Maybe that has something to do with a CEO who asks at the end of a family’s grim ordeal: “Did we treat you right?”
I don’t know Janice well, but I run into her from time to time in my job. She is 70 but acts 45. She moves fast. She carries herself like a military leader – accustomed to issuing orders and having them followed. Formidable, but also Lancaster County folksy.
Please join me in saluting her as she retires after a half century at our hospital. Thanks, Janice, for treating your hometown right.