Doctors who listen and care are worth their weight in gold according to Honorary Fellow Dame Tariana Turia DNZM (pictured receiving Honorary Fellowship from former College President, Dr Tim Malloy). And she knows first-hand what a difference that makes when a loved one is ill, having recently lost her beloved husband George.
George, who was fit and healthy most of his life, suffered a major heart attack in September 2015. Arriving at the hospital in the middle of the night, anxious and scared, Tariana was shocked at the no-nonsense, blunt conversation she had with the first clinician who spoke with her and her family.
Thankfully, Dual Fellow Dr Tom Dawson (pictured below) was also working at ICU that night, and he provided a much more empathic approach.
“He was just so lovely and comforting,” says Tariana. “He gave us some options for George’s care, but he encouraged us to make decisions that worked for us, as a family. He was reassuring and he helped empower us to decide what was best. I can’t thank him enough for helping us.
"It was a terribly traumatic time, and having someone who listened to us was invaluable.”
While Tom Dawson is not Tariana’s usual doctor, she says she is grateful he was there that night when they needed support.
“My usual GP is Dr Satya Prakash and he’s also wonderful. He’s taken good care of us since we moved back to Whanganui 10 years ago, but I have to say he has been absolutely worth his weight in gold since George became ill.
“He put George’s needs at the heart of everything, and was in our corner all the way. He would call the hospital if there was something in George’s care plan that he didn’t agree with, and he kept a close eye on his progress.
“Because he knew us, he could tell when things were out of the ordinary. When George was hesitant to go back to hospital, Dr Prakash was able to soothe him and explain what was going to happen in a way that gave us confidence.
“He went the extra mile and he listened to us. When I was concerned about George’s medications, he took my concerns on board and we agreed how we would monitor the situation and make adjustments where we could.
“George passed away two weeks ago. I’m terribly sad to lose him, but I’m grateful that we had a great life together and that he didn’t linger too long when he was ill.
“Dr Prakash called around yesterday to bring us flowers and a basket of goodies for our grandchildren. He’s just so thoughtful.”
Families need to be trusted as they know what’s best for their loved ones, and health professionals should be listening to them.