Skip Navigation

Toby's Take: Odds and Ends

Keith Sale MD testifying before a U.S. Senate subcommittee on artificial intelligence

December 05, 2023

This feels like cheating. I’ve had the opportunity to write 50 or so blog entries on The University of Kansas Health System since we started this. So far, they’ve all been “original programming.” I haven’t resorted to “best of” or “encore” versions yet. But every once in a while, I collect ideas on subjects or updates that might not warrant a full-on blog post but seem appropriate to mention.


Acutely recognized to HOF

In August, I wrote a blog post on the health system’s Acute Inpatient Rehabilitation Team and the outstanding work it does to get patients back home and back to their activities. For some, that means learning to live a different way.

What I didn’t know at the time is the rehab unit periodically recognizes patients for their commitment to getting better with the Rehabilitation Hall of Fame. In late October, the team celebrated patient Melissa Childers, a wonderfully active outdoor sports enthusiast who’s now in a wheelchair from a spinal stroke that caused paraplegia.

I do remember the therapists talking about getting their motivation from the endurance of their patients. Childers worked hard every day of rehab, openly discussed mourning the losses in her life and resolved to never quit getting back some of the life the stroke took from her. She’s now fully into adaptive sports and still inspires her therapists. Great story.

I will never forget the homeless man who died in our hospital. Family members arrived 3 days later looking for him, and I was able to inform them that someone was with their brother at the time of his death. He was not alone.” Becky Johnson


NODA update

One of my favorite blog posts to write this year told the No One Dies Alone story at The University of Kansas Health System. NODA leans on a special set of employee volunteers to comfort patients in the final hours of their lives. Chaplain Becky Johnson, quoted in the blog post, recalled some new stories of employees sitting with dying patients, and both involved music.

“(I) was informed that the patient did not have any family,” one volunteer wrote. “He had some jazz music playing and, during moments of him being awake, he would hum a little. He sang me the song ‘Margie.’ He was a beautiful man, and I enjoyed my brief visit.”

Another reported: “The doctor told me the patient’s favorite music was rock and roll and AC/DC. I learned that if it would bring some sort of comfort to this patient, then let’s rock this place!”

Chaplain Johnson then recalled her own encounter with a dying patient.

“I will never forget the homeless man who died in our hospital,” she said. “Family members arrived 3 days later looking for him, and I was able to inform them that someone was with their brother at the time of his death. He was not alone.”

When I grow up, I want to be a NODA volunteer.

Senate testimony

Ambulatory is a fun word in healthcare. The word can mean several things, but it basically describes someone who is “up and around.” Our ambulatory program includes doctors’ offices and other outpatient settings.

Keith Sale, MD, FAAOA, the health system’s chief physician executive for ambulatory services, testified last month before a U.S. Senate subcommittee on artificial intelligence (AI): how it’s not that new in medicine, that it’s making notes and medical records so much better and, yes, it needs regulation to address the scary side when it comes to fears about privacy concerns.

Secret shopping’s a pain

Almost anything’s better than a sharp stick in the eye, the saying goes. I’m guessing whoever came up with that saying couldn’t really think of anything worse. My eye doctor growing up had a poster in one of his exam rooms that read, “A small pain in the eye is great.” Amen, brother.

Leaving out details to protect the embarrassed (me), I found out how painful a corneal abrasion can be. After the incident at home, my left eye (poked by a sharp object) felt weird but not in pain. Near excruciating pain followed 3 hours later, then a fitful night’s sleep and a decision to head to the health system’s Urgent Care at KU MedWest at I-435 and Midland Drive in Shawnee, Kansas.

I had toured the facility before with Dr. Sale and Russell Rein, vice president of ambulatory services and practice management, the health system’s “eye” on all our locations treating outpatients. Let’s just say you “get it” when you’re there to be observed rather than to observe. It was like being a secret shopper, where you go check out your own place to see how you’re treated as a customer.

I had terrific care from Doug Anderson, MD, and his nurse. I got immediate relief from numbing drops and an antibiotic to take for a few days. Dr. Anderson talked me through every step and told me how a pet cat’s claw gave him his experience with a corneal abrasion when he was 9. I’m not surprised he still remembers the pain.

I’m seeing so well I think I can write a full blog post on 1 subject next week.

You may also be interested in

Explore more news, events and media