Kane Dawson ’94, the COO of the Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) regional hospital in Philadelphia, was giving me a tour of the hospital when we crossed Diane’s path in the elevator. Diane is a patient. Her name tag told me that. Yes, the patients wear name tags, if they so choose. When Kane ask her in very general terms about her experience there, she answered: “I can’t imagine being any place else”.
Later, I picked up my car at valet parking (they were preparing for a big “Celebration of Life” the next day and the only parking was valet) Darnell helped me out. When I tried to tip him, he nicely explained they don’t do that at CTCA. Smiling though, he said I could take his picture next time I was there. I said we should do it now and snapped away. Darnell said he liked his work and the smile said it was so.
The executive chef, whose name I didn’t catch but would love to tell you it was “Dave”, said he loved his work. He let me know in no uncertain terms that he was a chef and a caregiver all in one. Think about a Master Chef at a hospital instead of some 5 star restaurant. Just a part of what they do there.
If ever a culture defines an institution, it is CTCA. What could so easily be a place of illness and death was alive as a place where the focus on living was the key. Sure, there were sick people but there was world-class equipment, medicines, and people. People – probably the most important part of it all.
We paused briefly at the Chapel – there were people in there talking so no chance for a photo. What I did notice is that a limestone wall had turned into a prayer basket, with little notes stuck through the openings. Great doctors and healthcare are one thing – help from above is another level.
As most of you know, the Grunge is a cancer survivor. I wouldn’t change anything about my care – my doc (Trey Holland, classmate) and the hospital (St. Vs.) were great! But I’ll tell you what. I’m thankful that something, somewhere made Kane decide to get into this line of work and that Dick Stephenson ’62 had the vision for CTCA.
It’s all about the living.
Top: The CTCA regional hospital
Right: My new friend Darnell
Bottom: Kane Dawson ’94