Gerri Kennedy has been an employee of OEC, a Steelcase dealer, since 1984. In 1999, she received the frightening diagnosis of a very aggressive form of breast cancer. Her diagnosis was grim.
“I will never forget my initial exam when they discovered the lump and the many, many doctor visits that followed,” said Gerri. “Each and every one of those doctor appointments consisted of me lying flat on my back looking up at and listening to the parade of doctors and nurses standing over me, telling me of the horrors that I was about to endure. All the while, they were literally looking down on me.”
This environment clearly was a more frightening and intimidating experience than it had to be. In a situation where a patient wants to feel intelligent, informed and strong, Gerri did not. The last thing she wanted to feel like was a victim, and yet, with the impersonal setup of the exam room and the lack of personal touch and eye-to-eye contact, she did.
“I cannot imagine an environment that promoted the emotions of inferiority, fear, and victimization more than lying flat as people look down on you to deliver the most life altering, life threatening news you will probably ever hear!” Gerri said. “How much better and mentally prepared I would have been if instead I had been in a recliner during the examination. It would have been so much better if I had been reclined for the examination – if I had been able to sit up and look my physicians in the eye as an equal while they communicated my diagnosis and possible treatment information.”
As if the emotional distress alone wasn’t enough, imagine the physical discomfort of having major chest surgery and then having to be assisted to lie flat on an exam table, then back to a seating position, then from the exam table back onto your feet. With hundreds of stitches in your chest, this is a painful, unnecessary experience. In this particular instance, and many others, a recliner would greatly trump an exam table.
“I slept in a recliner in my home for months following my mastectomy and reconstruction surgeries to avoid the excruciating pain that came from trying to lie down and then sit up on my own. The recliner allowed me to sit, lay flat and then stand up unassisted and with much less physical discomfort. I was not a victim or an invalid in my recliner,” said Gerri.
A recliner like Empath can greatly improve upon the patient experience, in terms of their physical wellbeing as well as their emotional wellbeing. We’ve written about Empath being a modern replacement for the exam table before, in our reports from TEDMED and NeoCon, with the Smartphone Physical being a prime example. The advantages of a recliner over an exam table are innumerable – check out those posts here.
“I am happy to report that they gave me three years with chemotherapy treatment and it has now been 14 years! If I had to endure this experience again I would certainly hope my oncologist would be progressive and considerate enough to have Empath recliners in their patient and exam rooms.” Congratulations Gerri!