The Gift of Service

The University of Michigan Health System is a remarkable place with exceptional people who never forget the reason why they come to work every day of the year: to promote health and prevent disease, and to serve patients and families.

At this time of the year, many of us are able to take time off to celebrate the holidays with friends and family. But, for many UMHS faculty and staff who work at our hospitals, a holiday is simply another workday.

Our hospitals operate 24/7/365. Our doors never close – not on holidays, not during inclement weather and not during seasonal downtime enjoyed by others. We are always open and we must always be ready to serve.

I have often asked staff members how they feel about working on special holidays. Without exception, each person shared a version of the same answer. They always take it in stride and are proud to bring a little holiday joy into the lives of our precious patients. They tell me that they and their families are happy to celebrate before or after their shift because they recognize how fortunate they are to have the opportunity to spend time together at home. This is an opportunity that our patients do not have.

These people who sacrifice for others and this commitment to putting our patients and families first are what have always defined Leaders & Best in our Health System.

Every year, thousands of patients spend the holidays in our hospitals and thousands of employees spend their holidays caring for them. I ask you to join me in thanking all of the people in our Health System who give of themselves in the service of others. There is no more admirable or rewarding gift than giving of yourself, your time and your talents to help others, especially when they need it the most. And in the wake of the terrible tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, this message of sacrifice and service has never been more poignant.

This holiday season, let’s keep those families in our thoughts and let’s hope for peace in the New Year.


VIDEOS: Demonstrating our Values; Achieving our Goals

To remind us all of the incredible impact of the work we do at the University of Michigan Health System, each  month I will be posting videos of faculty and staff talking about how their work connects to our seven strategic goals, and of patients and family members sharing their experiences with patient and family-centered care.

Greg Maxwell, music practitioner with Gifts of Art, discusses the healing power of music and his experience with one very special patient:

Ann Fitzsimons lost her sister, Maureen, to colon cancer. At the same time, she found out what it means to experience patient- and family-centered care at UMHS. Hear her story: