True Compassion is Key to Lasting Impact

by Debbie Simon, UnityPoint Health

There are many women at UnityPoint Health who inspire me. They are leading with purpose to transform care delivery and the care experience for the people we are honored to serve. In our organization, women are raising the bar at every level, and I’m proud to be a partner in supporting them and their journeys. Each of my colleagues has their own unique story to tell, but all of us share the same goal: to provide every person we care for with the best outcome and best experience possible. 

My story begins when I was 16 years old. Long before I was regional CEO, I worked as an aide at a local nursing home. I remember a woman I cared for named Gertrude who didn’t communicate. Because Gertrude didn’t speak, my young colleagues and I often carried on conversations as if she wasn’t in the room. Then one day, I was surprised and embarrassed when Gertrude spoke, and I realized we had made unfair judgments about her and made her feel ignored. While I regret my behavior, the experience has shaped my approach to healthcare every day since. 

As regional CEO, I work with other leaders to make decisions based on data, projections and community needs. But I always try to remember Gertrude. She taught me that caring for someone is much more than just medicine and tests. Truly caring for someone is seeing them for who they are and listening to their needs. Each person we care for has feelings and their own story to tell—if you just ask them. 

The people I’m proud to work alongside join me in understanding the need to show true compassion for the people we care for. We are working to assure that UnityPoint Health is an organization where compassion and caring are felt by patients and family members in every encounter. 

When I meet new members of our UnityPoint Health family, I sometimes share the story of Gertrude. It’s my way of sharing how they and their teams impact the lives of the people we serve. Training and processes are important, but we also need to focus on elevating our ability to truly feel and show empathy and compassion.

Today and every day, I salute the women of this community, including my colleagues, who are supporting and paving the way for others. iBi

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