I was walking down the ground floor hall when I saw Alicia, a unit secretary, leaning on the wall outside the elevators, waiting for one to open. I stopped to chat for a moment. She said she was waiting for a woman she thought would be stepping off the elevator soon. She said the woman seemed upset when she got on the elevator, and Alicia wanted to make sure she was OK.
Just at that moment, the elevator doors opened and a woman stepped off. She was obviously upset; she had the face of a person who had been crying. As she passed us, her eyes looking down at the ground, Alicia asked her if she was okay.
The woman did not look up, but quietly said, “Yes,” and kept walking. “Well, I thought you might need a hug,” Alicia said.
The woman, who was now at least 10 steps beyond us, turned and literally ran back into Alicia’s arms. She began sobbing so hard that her body shook. Alicia said nothing as she held the grief-stricken woman. I smiled at Alicia and went on my way. I don’t know how long they stood there together, the silence broken only by the woman’s tears.
This encounter touched my heart so much. The simple act of a human touch filled my being with a sense of peace. It is the perfect example of why we, and our patients, know that we’ve come to the right place.