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Q&A: Healthcare Hero Reveals How Children’s Hospitals Are Giving Parents Peace of Mind

Anyone who has been cast off to a hospital waiting room during a loved one’s surgery knows the stress of uncertainty and unfamiliar surroundings.  Warmth, empathy, and no-nonsense dialogue are often cherished during these hours of unease. And as it turns out, there’s a profession dedicated to just this. Surgical nurse liaison Meg Hartman works at AI DuPont, shuttling updates and answers to parents while their child is in surgery. Because Hartman is so invested in helping others, it’s essential that her car is the least of her worries, which is why she drives a Subaru Outback. That way, she has more time for her patients and their families.

Here, this local healthcare hero shares her personal mantra, the best part of her day and why Subaru has been a lifesaver for her family.

What does your average workday entail?

I work a 10 hour day. I come in at 7:30am; our surgical day starts at 7:45am. I try to meet the families and their children in the morning, introduce myself and tell them what I do. I keep families updated during surgery. So if their child is having a procedure that may take a couple of hours, I go in the operating room and see what is going on. And then I’ll come out and update the families every hour.

Sometimes there are changes during surgery that I need to let them know about. I get them into the recovery room afterward with them and I help them out during the day. Our motto is “whatever it takes”–and that’s what I try to do. I’ve been doing this for 17 years.

What’s the most exciting aspect of your job right now?

[The parents] like to know that someone has seen their child after they left them. I’ll let the parents know how their child did going to sleep. The most exciting thing about my job is that hopefully, I’m making a difference. Most people go into nursing or medicine they want to help people and they want to make a difference. I meet the nicest parents and the nicest kids. I enjoy what I do.

Do you have any personal mantras that help you become better at your job?

I always try to live by: “Treat people how you’d want to be treated and how your family would want to be treated.” I start my day by saying I’m going to try and make a difference in somebody’s life.

Which one of AI Dupont’s initiatives makes you most proud?

The one that impresses me the most is connecting our purpose and helping children reach their full potential and that’s in our mission statement: be connected by a purpose. If you’re going to work with children, know why you’re doing that. [The hospital] has gotten much more connected with the community and getting community involvement and the employees getting solved in community activities.

How is AI Dupont differ from other hospitals? How does your position fit into that?

I can say that all children’s hospitals do a wonderful service, and we’re in an area with several excellent hospitals. We seem to be able to show [how we care for patients] differently. I can’t put my finger on it, but I’ve had so many families tell me that they feel like they’re apart of this hospital. People truly go out of their way in our hospital to help you and I think that’s one of things that make us stand out. We’re in a very idyllic location; it’s very beautiful. I think it helps us that we’re able to offer that to families.

What’s the biggest change you’ve noticed in the healthcare field?

I think the biggest thing is probably that the illnesses that would’ve put people in the hospital for days 15 years ago aren’t anymore. They may be seen on an outpatient basis. The patients in the hospital any more are those that are truly ill.

I think a lot of healthcare institutions are shifting from being [wholly] physician-driven decision making, to being more family centered. They work with their families to make the best decisions for the family members. It’s not just “the doctor said I have to do it this way.” Families are more educated and informed so things are done in collaboration. We’ve been doing that here for a really long time, but that’s the big buzzword family-centered care.

What model Subaru do you drive?

I have a 2011 Subaru Outback. I bought it new in 2011.

Has your Subaru contributed in making your life easier?

I had a 6-cylinder Explorer and my Subaru Outback is a 4-cylnder, but I have to tell you, it’s one of the zippiest cars. It can get out of its own way! It’s great on gas. It’s great with storage. We have several dogs in our family and I have a dog cage in the back of our Outback in case we take one to the vet. I could do that in the Explorer too, but the Outback is lower; it’s much easier.

I absolutely love my car. Everyone in my family has a Subaru. My husband and my daughter have Subaru cars. We all name them. Mine is Ziva.

What three words would you use to describe you’re your Subaru?

Zippy, comfortable and smart-looking.

Has there been a moment where your career in healthcare and being an owner of a Subaru has intersected?

I’m lucky, I only drive about 2.5 miles to work, but my youngest daughter had one and it saved her life. She was involved in a head-on collision in her Subaru Forester. It was about a month before she graduated college and no one in the car was hurt, and neither was anyone in the other car. She has since purchased her own Forester!

For more information about finding the right ride for you, visit Subaru, here.