When Dr. Eric Clark first met Flor Lacson, he was reminded of someone special.
Dr. Clark was a young and newly minted anesthesiologist when he met Flor, an experienced surgical nurse, in the operating room at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center nearly 30 years ago. Flor quickly became a mentor to Dr. Clark, helping him navigate his new work environment and learn the hospital culture. Her kindness, compassion, collegiality and — above all — steadfast focus on the best care for the patient reminded him of the most important nurse in his life: his mom.
“My mother was a nurse for many years,” Dr. Clark says. “The relationship between physicians and nurses was different in those days, but it was changing, and I remember my mom saying that her colleagues would say things like, ‘You shouldn’t engage the doctors in as much conversation as you do,’ but that’s who my mom was.”
“In many ways, I see my mom in Flor,” Dr. Clark adds. “I came to trust Flor quickly because she has always been sincere and straightforward. It’s always been clear that for Flor, nothing and no one is more important than the patient in the room. She’s been a nurse for more than 50 years, and she has as much energy, competence and confidence as she did on day one.”
For Flor and Dr. Clark, decades of experience have taught them that positive doctor-nurse relationships are good for the patient. Surgery takes teamwork, as Flor and Dr. Clark say, and the patient benefits when care team members treat each other with respect and feel comfortable speaking up.
“There are few things that create greater anxiety than going under the knife,” Dr. Clark says. “What I admire about Flor — and the entire surgical team at Sharp Chula Vista — is that in addition to providing the best care, there is the human element. It’s always been important to me to spend time with my patients and their families before surgery. Many of my patients are older and of a generation where medical professionals talked over them, but I talk directly to the patient and make sure they understand what’s going to happen and that I’m going to be with them the entire time.”
Caring about patients as people is important to Flor as well, who always introduces herself to the patient before surgery, then introduces every member of the surgical team.
“I say, ‘This is Dr. Clark and this is Dr. so-and-so, and these are your nurses and these are your surgical techs.’ I think that’s important so the patient knows everyone in the room and that we will take care of them like we would our own family.”
Dr. Clark recently surprised Flor by nominating her for Sharp HealthCare’s Spirit of Caring Award, the organization’s highest honor for exceptional patient care. Flor won, which came as no surprise to Dr. Clark.
“Flor today and Flor 27 years ago are the same person. She has never wavered. I am no longer young, and I have a few notches on my belt from the experience of handling the toughest of cases, but I still take my guidance from her.”
For the news media: To speak with Flor Lacson or Dr. Clark for an upcoming story, please contact Erica Carlson, senior public relations specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org.