Getting To Know You

Cath and Me in 2010

To put the care back into health care, focus on relationships.

To focus on relationships, build trust and mutual caring.

To build trust and mutual caring, get to know each other as human beings, not by titles and diagnoses.

I have been thinking about my healthy relationships in health care. (To see my unhealthy relationships, I welcome you to read my first book). How do we arrive at the place of mutual caring and respect?

I want to tell the story of how my relationship with Dr. Catherine Crock has grown over the past ten years.

Dr. Crock and I were first introduced by the folks at the Institute for Patient and Family Centered Care. We arranged a Skype call to meet, Dr. Crock in Melbourne and me 17 hours behind her time in Canada. I think she woke up at 6 am to take our call.

I was nervous to meet Dr. Crock, me a mom and she a prestigious physician who pioneered the Hush Foundation in Australia. We had a good initial chat despite my nerves. She introduced herself as Cath, not Dr. Crock, and that set the tone for a relationship based on what we had in common, not our differences. We were both mothers of many children and passionate about patient centred care. I never felt I had to prove myself to her, for she was warm, asking gentle questions to set me at ease. I’m a curious sort too and we were both curious about each other.

A few months later, Cath emailed me a call for abstracts for a Consumers Reforming Health Care conference in Australia. They were looking for 15-minute break-out talks. I was early in my speaking career and laughed when I saw it. Fly to Australia for a 15-minute talk? That’s ridiculous. Cath, who I realize now is a mentor, pushing me just a bit further than I think I can go, encouraged me to send in an abstract. To appease her, I wrote up a blurb and sent it off.

What do you know? My abstract was accepted. ‘You must come!’ said Cath. ‘I can’t fly to Australia for a 15-minute presentation,’ I said. ‘Why not?’ said Cath, ‘You can stay with me at our family home.’