October 1, 2012

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What Doesn’t Kill You…

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Healthcare Heroes

The Quiet Champions of Healing and Hope

Sarah Cutler, Di Lewis, Sarah Ryther Francom

October 1, 2012

Eric Vogel is a third generation dentist following after his father and grandfather. Dentistry wasn’t just a career path for Vogel, it was a life path to provide service, innovate, continue learning and play an important role in the community.

Vogel began full-time practice in 1988, the same year he began teaching dentistry at BYU and later was involved in the creation of Aribex, a company that invented a handheld X-ray machine impacting humanitarian work. He then helped form the nonprofit charity Share a Smile, which has become a resource for local dentists to provide care to the poor in the Utah community and abroad. 

“I have tried to see a bigger picture and give back to those in need as I am able,” says Vogel. “I am a firm believer that if a lot of us each contribute what we are able, the burdens of the world will become significantly lighter.”

The charity work Vogel has contributed to the community has proven successful. He recalls a 30-year-old patient he took care of at a homeless clinic who had a history of drug abuse—visible from his teeth. A year later, the patient came back to tell Vogel how he was doing. He had quit drugs for good, landed a job—all of which he attributed to his new teeth and Vogel’s belief in him.

A year ago, Vogel was diagnosed with a rare form of jaw cancer. After investing in the community for years, dentists from all over the state stepped up and offered to care for his patients while he was ill and others have continued on his humanitarian work. “Some acts of kindness have made such an impression on me that they have literally left me in tears for the rest of the day,” says Vogel. “The news rarely reports acts of kindness, but they abound even when they aren’t ‘news worthy.’ The world really isn’t such a bad place after all.”

Dr. Lynn R. Webster
Co-founder, LifeSource
Medical Director, CRI Lifetree
President-elect, American Academy of Pain Medicine

At the age of five, Dr. Lynn Webster told his Grandma Al, who was suffering from multiple sclerosis, “When I grow up, I’m going to be a doctor, Grandma, and make you better. You won’t hurt anymore. You won’t have to cry.” Years later, he implanted his first device to treat pain into a woman suffering from multiple sclerosis.

Webster co-founded LifeSource in 2006 to educate physicians, patients and communities on science-, social- and pain-related issues that affect health, as well as to fund and conduct research on new solutions. The first project developed was the “Zero Unintentional Deaths” campaign which kicked off with a statewide tour of Utah.

Since 2006, Webster has given nearly 70 presentations nationwide and written 50 published articles to help physicians identify patients at risk for pain medication misuse. He is board certified in anesthesiology and pain medicine, and is certified in addiction medicine. 

“The real heroes are patients and their families and friends who support them,” says Webster. “Our community has two serious problems: prescription drug abuse and chronic pain. In too many instances, both problems exist together and sometimes this leads to a tragic outcome. A person doesn’t choose a life in chronic pain nor is substance abuse always a volitional behavior. Those who fight their battles to find a meaningful existence in the face of these two demons are the real heroes.” 

Administrative Excellence
Pamela J Bennett, MSN, RN
Division VP Quality and Clinical Operations,
HCA MountainStar Healthcare

On-the-ground nursing experience laid the foundation for Pamela Bennett’s career today. In her clinical work in an intensive care unit, Bennett says she was tested and got to see firsthand the emotional challenges patients and families face.

Seeing the day-to-day struggles of healthcare providers and patients has given Bennett invaluable insight that she now uses in her role as vice president of quality and clinical operations for MountainStar Healthcare. She transitioned to working and studying patient safety and quality in 2001. Bennett says she chose the healthcare field because she enjoys the balance between applying science and business principles and taking compassionate care of people.

Part of her job today is developing clear and effective communication with clinical staff when serious problems happen. “Physicians and nurses hold themselves to the highest accountability for the safety of their patients. When something goes wrong they blame themselves,” Bennett says. “It has been my job to help these clinicians to process adverse events, not through the eyes of individual accountability, but by considering factors in the environment that contributed to creating circumstances where many safety barriers were rendered ineffective.”

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