Many older patients enter the hospital confused, fearful and sometimes combative.
But 2019 Excellence in Service Award winner Lori Saintignon’s affinity for elderly patients inspires awe and admiration among her peers and supervisors.
“Known as ‘the patient whisperer,’ Lori proves time and time again her uncanny ability to instantly calm and comfort disoriented and agitated patients almost immediately,” says Emily Badertscher, nurse-patient care coordinator on Ohio State East Hospital Tower 7.
“Lori has lovingly brushed hair, scrubbed dentures and rubbed lotion on tired, gnarled feet out of fondness and respect for this elderly population,” Emily says. “Day-shift and night-shift nurses and patient care associates alike often solicit suggestions and ‘tricks of the trade’ from Lori, who has quickly become the resident expert on communicating with the elderly.
“She also is quite adept at detecting subtle nuances in a patient’s changing condition that may not necessarily be reflected in the vital signs, which has enabled nurses and physicians to intervene quickly and appropriately.”
Tell us a little about yourself.
I am from a small town called Versailles, Ohio. I have been in nursing for 30 years.
What led you to Ohio State?
I decided to move to Columbus for new career opportunities.
What drew you to the field and the role you play at the medical center?
I am passionate about helping others. The best way I can explain that and provide it is by being there. I feel when we are at a down point in life, like being sick, sometimes you need someone to listen. That’s what I’m here for, not to judge but to listen.
Where do you work and what type of patients do you work with?
I work at East Hospital on Tower 7. Our floor is a medical/surgical floor, so we get any and all kinds of patients.
We hear you have a special connection with elderly patients. How did that come about?
It comes naturally. I noticed when I was young, I was always drawn to the elderly, especially the ones who are confused. It seems like my presence helps calm them down.
What tips or advice can you offer to others working with elderly patients?
Just treat them the way you would want people to treat your grandmother or grandfather. I always treat them like family.
Which of the medical center’s core values do you most identify with and why?
Empathy and sincerity. Nobody knows what a person is going through and what their story is. I always come to work with an open heart and open mind since I will be a stranger taking care of this patient and they will also look at me as a stranger. I genuinely take care of them like my family.
What’s the most challenging part of your job? What’s the most rewarding part?
I would say it’s the emotional attachment. I get easily attached to patients, especially when I start getting to know them and their life. The rewarding part is making a difference in their life, even if it’s a single shift or my three days taking care of them.
What else should we know about you?
I love to take care of people even outside of work and I help elderly neighbors with their gardens.