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Archive September 2020 XXI, No. 9

Editor's Page: Answering the Calls

You're always willing to pick up the phone, no matter what's going on.

Daniel Cook

Daniel Cook, Editor-in-Chief


I look forward to our September issue and the announcement of the year's OR Excellence Award winners. They represent the incredible surgical professionals who our editorial team calls for "been-there-done-that" insights and "I-know-what-you-need" advice that make this magazine special. We're simply the messengers of your expertise and rely on you to fill these pages month after month.

It's a good thing you take our calls.

Like, all the time.

I'm constantly amazed at your willingness to pick up the phone, even on days when cases are stacking up, nurses are calling out and surgeons are complaining. I've called countless surgical leaders who've had to duck into a quiet space, away from the din of a busy day of surgery, to spend valuable minutes talking about the job they could be doing or, heaven forbid, taking a few precious minutes for themselves.

I've interviewed your kind while they were at sporting events, sitting on taxiing planes, breaking the one rule of Amtrak's quiet car and walking their dogs. Breathless hospital leaders have shared their thoughts as they speed-walked between meetings. I've ridden shotgun through the phone on countless commutes home.

During the early stages of the pandemic, I reached out to a surgery center administrator to ask about how she planned on reopening her ORs when elective surgeries were allowed to resume. She had spent several days locked in her office completely revamping the facility's policies and procedures, so I asked her what time she'd been heading home each night.

"Late," she laughed.

She still took my call and explained the details of the reopening protocols as if I worked for CMS. Her willingness to talk during imperfect circumstances is far from unique.

I once reached out to an anesthesiologist who answered his cell while, unbeknownst to me, he was enjoying a family vacation.

On a boat.

In the middle of the Aegean Sea.

I apologized profusely and begged off the call, but he insisted on chatting about continuous nerve blocks while cruising past Crete.

One surgeon I scheduled an interview with had to calculate the time difference between my office in suburban Philadelphia and his next destination. I'm not sure where in the world he was, but I talked to him on Tuesday my time, Wednesday his.

Another surgeon politely said he couldn't take my call, but emailed responses to my questions on his phone while relaxing on a Caribbean beach.

I woke a well-known orthopod at five in the morning as he slept on the west coast when I forgot to account for the three-hour time difference. He still went through with the interview from bed, his voice thick with sleep. It wasn't his best effort, but to be fair his first cup of coffee hadn't even started percolating.

I haven't yet talked to anyone while they've been indisposed. At least I don't think so.

Regardless of what kind of day you're having, the length of your to-do list or what's going on in your personal lives, you jump at the chance to tell us your stories and pass along your knowledge to further the profession and, most importantly, improve patient care.

Please keep picking up the phone and sharing your most precious commodity. Surgical professionals across the country are counting on it. So are we. OSM

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