Good morning and Merry Christmas to all of UMMC!
I hope you get some time over the holidays to rest and recharge. I'll resume VC Notes on January 8, 2016.
The inspiration for my message today came not from thinking about Christmas, but from Thanksgiving.
Just about one month ago, on Thanksgiving Day, the Clarion-Ledger published a front-page article about two critically ill children who received heart transplants at Batson Children's Hospital within a span of 17 hours last summer. The story, by the incomparable Billy Watkins, described how thankful the two families were to have their children, a girl age 5 and a 22-month-old boy, restored to health.
The thing that struck me most, though, was when I read about how the little boy was always cold in the hospital. The Batson nurses brought him extra blankets and, using their own money, bought him a coat and a pair of pajamas.
Thanksgiving is a holiday when we celebrate our gratitude for the things we have. Christmas is a season of giving, a time when we think of others and go to some trouble and expense to express our love or friendship in the form of a gift.
Kindnesses of the type our nurses expressed to our young patient happen every day at our Medical Center. Most of them don't get reported in the media and that's just fine. All that matters is that our patients know we care about them.
This caring spirit is part of who we are, what distinguishes us as health-care professionals and - because it's always been so pervasive in our staff and students - sets UMMC apart from every other place of its kind.
I especially want to share my appreciation with our staff who are working during these holidays. For patients and families, spending Christmas in the hospital is no fun, and it can even be a very sad time. Your caring presence makes a huge difference in their lives.
I also want to express my thanks to Mississippi's First Lady, Deborah Bryant. What a friend she has been to patients and families in the Children's Hospital. She is a regular at Christmas, often accompanied by the Governor. She always arrives without fanfare and avoids the spotlight, but she brightens the day of all she meets.
To all of you I bid a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. If Christmas is not the tradition you celebrate, then I hope you enjoy this time with your family and friends in other traditions or activities that are meaningful to you. Everybody's beliefs are important and matter.
Which brings me to my New Year's wish: May all of us experience the gift of a more peaceful and loving world in 2016.