The Weight of Our Work
John Pini was the project manager of the newly renovated Judd A. Weinberg Emergency Department at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, a project funded through philanthropy. In a recent article appearing in Walsh Construction's Healthcare Heartbeat newsletter, John writes about an unexpected, yet life-changing visit to the very emergency department that he helped to create; an experience that clarified the importance and impact of his life's work. The article is used with permission from Walsh Construction.
Shortly after celebrating the opening of the new emergency department at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, I received a message that paramedics were in route to my grandfather. His lungs were rapidly filling with fluid. I stepped out from the site office to re-gain my composure. I prayed for God to bring him peace, to remind him that I love him, and I begged for a chance to see him one last time if it were within the boundaries of God’s will. The next update from my family came quickly. For a reason I still don’t know, the paramedics were rerouted from the nearest, planned hospital destination, and they were instead bringing him to Gottlieb Memorial Hospital.
The first thoughts that bubbled up in my mind were cruel and unwelcomed; I felt as if the fruit of my work for the past year would culminate in the bitterness of a loss that I couldn’t bear. Then, I remembered what I’d just prayed for, and I began to understand what was happening with clarity. My fear and desire to look away from the inevitable was replaced by a deep gratitude, as I took difficult steps into the presence of the grace being offered. The void that was previously expanding in my chest began to fill with a substantive weight that I felt honored to carry, and I prepared, as best as I could, to be strong for a much greater man.
The moments I spent with my grandfather in resuscitation room 1W135 are some of the most treasured I will ever keep. That time marked our last lucid conversation together. We spoke about our family and our love, about the everlasting home God the Father prepared for him, about looking forward to meeting again there, and about the providence and answered prayer that brought him to Gottlieb Memorial Hospital. The purest smile I’ve ever seen radiated from my grandfather’s face when I told him that the room we were sitting in was the last patient room we’d just recently finished constructing, and I became overwhelmed with realization that the significance of our work resolved into something more beautiful than I could’ve previously imagined.
Without knowing it, I was preparing a place for our meeting and my grandfather’s care in his final days. In the same way, our team was preparing this emergency department to improve real, life giving care for many others in the community. The Gottlieb ED staff, through their noble work, stabilized my grandfather and were able to send him home for a few final days in accordance with his wishes. His body perished, surrounded by his children, grandchildren, and his wife of 70 years, Alma Pini.
My hope in sharing this story is that others might take away a newfound perspective on the importance of our work. Once it leaves our hands, our effort will continue to serve others, and there is likely a greater plan for it than we imagine. Keep this knowledge close to the heart.