This is Whole Health: Vickie Cannon

Vicki Cannon, Director, Office Of Clinical Trials. Vicki.cannon@unthsc.edu“As a pediatric nurse, my days are usually filled with the sounds of laughter, the pitter-patter of tiny feet and the joy that radiates from the children under my care. It’s a world of smiles and giggles, where the troubles of the adult world often feel distant. However, as with any medical field, there are moments when the harsh reality of life makes its presence felt.

“One day many years ago, we had a young patient who came in experiencing significant symptoms. The pediatrician ordered a test, hoping to uncover a simple explanation for the symptoms. The test, however, revealed a catastrophic diagnosis. This sad news seriously impacted the family. The single mother lost her job, and with it, her home and transportation. The emotional turmoil she endured was nothing short of heart-wrenching, and she was angry with everyone and everything.

“The medical team recommended hospice care for the child. It was a suggestion that the mother found impossible to accept; she believed that placing her child in hospice care would mean giving up. She couldn’t bear the thought of letting go. Recognizing the importance of Whole Health care, the medical team extended support beyond medical procedures. We took on the task of arranging transportation for the child’s frequent visits, understanding that the mother was stretched thin. We also guided her to access food through the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, alleviating some of her financial burdens. It was our way of addressing not just the physical needs but the broader health concerns of the family.

“As the child’s condition continued to deteriorate, the mother was forced to grieve. Amidst her struggle, she formed a special bond with a few of the nurses who had been by her side through it all. When the weight of the situation became too much to bear, she would call, and one of us would make time for her. Sometimes she needed medication and supplies, but more often than not, she simply needed someone to listen to her pain, her fear and her anger.

“After the child’s passing, the mother embarked on a journey of healing. The nurses, who had become her lifelines, continued to support her as she dealt with the void left by her child’s absence. Slowly but surely, she began to rebuild her life, returning to work and rekindling her spiritual relationship by returning to church. This story underscores the vital importance of addressing the emotional and spiritual well-being of an individual. The medical team knew that holistic health was a critical component of healing, and the compassionate care we provided played an instrumental role in this family’s journey to recovery.

“This story is a testament to the fact that in Whole Health, it’s not just about procedures and processes. It’s about understanding the holistic needs of a person, acknowledging the impact that emotional and spiritual well-being can have on the healing process, and recognizing that sometimes, the best way to provide care is simply to be there, offering comfort and support when it’s needed the most.”

Vicki Cannon, BSN, RN

Chief Nursing Officer

HSC Health

What areas of whole health are part of this story? 

  • Self-Care
  • Physical Health
  • Mental Health
  • Spiritual Health
  • Financial Health

To learn more about HSC’s Whole Health Initiative, go to unthsc.edu/wholehealth. If you have an example of how you have implemented one or more whole health areas and want to be featured in the “This is Whole Health” series, please email news@unthsc.edu.

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