Meeting the need in the moment
Nancy is a patient of Thomas Lugus, MD. When she came in for an appointment in January, Dr. Lugus’s care team began their whole-care assessment. Whole-care means mind, body, and spirit and at AdventHealth Medical Group locations; it means asking three extra questions to help care teams get a gauge on the spiritual health and wellness of every person in their care.
Nancy says, “The first question that really got me was ‘Do you have joy in your life? ’Because I responded with, ‘No, he’s gone.’
”Just a few weeks earlier, Nancy and her husband Ken had gone to Virginia for Ken’s father’s funeral. While they were there, Ken, also a patient of Dr. Lugus, who had suffered chronic health issues, became very sick. “He wasn’t feeling well, so we took him to an ER there. They put him in ICU, but he died 10 days later.”
When Riina Lugus, the Certified Medical Assistant heard Nancy’s answer, she went straight to Debbie Guice, the Practice Manager. They were shocked because Nancy’s husband was one of their patients, too. Because of his death happening in Virginia, they had not received word of his passing yet. Debbie told Riina to keep Nancy there until she got back.
“I went to the store and bought Nancy some flowers. Then I went over and got an artificial rose and put it in the middle of the flowers.” Nancy came out to find the flowers and a sympathy card. On the inside, it read, “You will have someone who cares for you until the last flower fades.” Every team member had signed it. Debbie points out this promise goes beyond just her team.
“Even if any of us is gone from this office, there is always going to be someone at AdventHealth who will care for you.”
Nancy says, “I wasn’t even going to say anything about Ken passing, but when I was asked about joy, that’s when it all came out. If they hadn’t asked the questions, I don’t know if I would have shared anything about what I had been going through in the past few weeks.”
Nancy and Ken moved to Western North Carolina about four years ago and had no other family living in the area. They celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary last July.
“I have been back to see Dr. Lugus and he keeps saying how much he is going to miss Ken, too.”
“Thanks to Dr. Lugus and his team, I know that there is somebody who cares, and I feel like if I need to call the doctor’s office, one of them will talk with me.”