Bill McCracken

Bill McCracken: A Patient’s Perspective on Healthcare

Bill McCracken gives us a patient’s perspective on healthcare on this episode of the Perspectives on Healthcare Podcast with Rob Oliver. Bill is from British Columbia, Canada. He was part of the Patient Perspectives Interview Marathon. He is also Rob’s cousin.

Here are 3 things that stood out as Bill McCracken shared a patient’s perspective on healthcare:

1. Healthcare Heroes are those who retain their humanity and empathy, and who are not afraid to connect with patients on a human level.

2. Quality healthcare means providing a comprehensive approach that takes into account the whole person, not just their individual symptoms.

3. He believes that the medical community includes a wide range of professionals who all have something to contribute to the patient’s care.

Here is the transcript of Bill McCracken: A Patient’s Perspective on Healthcare:

Bill McCracken: Hello, Rob.

Rob Oliver: Hello and welcome, please. What is your name, my friend?

Bill McCracken: My name is Bill McCracken.

Rob Oliver: And Bill, where are you from?

Bill McCracken: I live in colonial British Columbia. I was born in Nova Scotia, but I’ve lived in British Columbia for more than 50 years.

Rob Oliver: Okay. And all of your entire life has been lived pretty much north of the border, so to speak? Yes. Although I have been south of the border because I have family south of the border on several different legs of the family are south of the border. So we’ve been south of the border, been in contact with Americans, but I’ve always lived in Canada.

Rob Oliver: Excellent. All right. So let’s start here. And that is, can you tell me about your self and your experiences in the healthcare system?

Bill McCracken: Okay. Well, I am 73 years old, and I have to say right at the beginning that I’ve had far more experience with the medical community than I ever thought I would that I ever really wanted to have. But both for me and my wife and for our children, the process of pregnancy and childbirth, all of those areas, I’ve had lots of contact with the healthcare system.

Rob Oliver: Okay. And along your journey, have you met any healthcare heroes?

Bill McCracken: Yes. And I was listening to the previous interview, and I agree with everything Wayne said, and I was just trying to think what I might say that is, in addition I think in addition to the why the heroes that stand out in my mind are the ones that retain their humanity, that understand compassion and empathy, and they understand that when someone is really sick or in a lot of pain, they need that support, much like a little child. And so they’re not afraid to do that. Hold your hand, for instance, which for an adult man, that seems kind of silly. But when you’re seriously in pain and you’re really scared, someone holding your hand is a wonderful thing.

Rob Oliver: Yeah. Tweetable moment. Right. Health care heroes maintain their humanity and empathy. What a powerful statement that those are the ones those are the people who really are making a difference and are to be lauded.

Bill McCracken: Yeah.

Rob Oliver: And I would imagine that part of it is because they are maintaining their humanity, which allows you to connect on more than a professional level. It allows you to connect on a human level. How does that sound to you?

Bill McCracken: Yeah, you said it very well. Very clear.

Rob Oliver: Okay, good. Every now and then, I’m able to get something out there and share what I’m trying to say. Would you say that there were anybody specific that you can think of that would have been a healthcare hero?

Bill McCracken: Well, the one nurse that I will never forget as long as I live, I don’t remember her name, but she had red hair. And this is more than 40 years ago. And she’s the one that held my hand when a procedure was being done. That was painful. I was kind of scared. And she just held my hand and said, now the more it hurts, the harder you squeeze. And she was probably around my age, maybe a little older at the time, but I needed that kind of support. And I wouldn’t have asked her for it, but she just gave it, offered it, and it was so wonderful.

Rob Oliver: Yeah. It’s funny to hear you talk about that, because sometimes when someone says the more it hurts, the harder you squeeze, there seems to be a transference of pain in which I am in much pain. So you must therefore also be in much pain. And it somehow makes me feel better, which. What a twisted concept. Is that crazy?

Bill McCracken: It is, yes. Thankfully, I’m not in pain today, but at that time, I was in a lot of pain and had been in a lot of pain, and my future was very uncertain. It was a scary time in my life.

Rob Oliver: Yeah. So what I’m hearing you say, though, there’s more than just the transference of pain, there is the power of human contact.

Bill McCracken: Yes.

Rob Oliver: Just literally the feeling of being in touch with someone else, being in contact with another person, that’s something that is irreplaceable. And the value of that can’t be overstated. Would you agree with that?

Bill McCracken: Yes, absolutely. And that applies, of course, to our relationship with the healthcare community, but it applies to our life right to the very end. I think the most important thing that we need is human contact. I think we want it right to the very end to our last breath. We want someone to be at our bedside holding our hand as we take our last breath.

Rob Oliver: It’s interesting to hear you say that. I think the first interview I did today was with Celia, and she was talking about how her partner was in the hospital. And because Celia was advocating so strongly for them, she was kicked out and she wasn’t allowed to come into the hospital. And within I think, 24 hours, she said he had passed away and there he was. And he passed away alone. Right. My comment then was that no one should be alone in those times. Even for someone who is in a non responsive state, there is still something there that connects to the fact that there’s someone else in the room that is with you. Does that make sense to you?

Bill McCracken: Yes, absolutely. In fact, I have experienced I’ve been with two people while they were dying. And it was very clear to me that the last sense to go is the sense of hearing. So even though they couldn’t communicate with me, their eyes were closed, they could still hear, and they were responding to verbal cues. And myself and other family members were there. And that was I can tell it was very reassuring to the person. So, yeah, it’s human contact, family, but of course, caregivers, too. That human contact is enormously important.

Rob Oliver: Right. Okay. So what does quality health care mean to you?

Bill McCracken: I think quality healthcare today, maybe it always has, but it seems to me that today our system is very fractured. We have every specialist is sort of this little silo. And the challenge for a patient is to navigate all the silos. And very often one specialist is not really considering the other specialists role. And so the challenge is to get them to work together and to talk to each other. And each of those specialists treat me as a human patient. I’m one person and I have maybe multiple areas of concern, but all those things are interconnected. Our bodies are very complex. And so if I could say that to every healthcare professional, I think that’s is enormous.

Rob Oliver: Yeah. That is so true as well. You said it. Well, thank you for saying that. What do you wish that your medical providers understood about you?

Bill McCracken: I think relating to what I just said, I wish they understand that I am one person and they’re looking at one part of me. Most specialists are only looking at one little part, maybe my heart or my stomach or my leg, but I’m one person.

Rob Oliver: Wow. Okay. Talk to me more about that concept, please. Can you expand on that? Can you expand on the idea of being one person and only looking at one part?

Bill McCracken: Well, the heart specialist looks at my heart and might prescribe medications and look at things that are related to your cardio system. But medication, they might prescribe affects other areas of my body. And I’m seeing this with my wife. She has lung issues, she has stomach issues, and those things all are interrupted with her heart. And it’s a challenge to get all of those areas addressed in a comprehensive way.

Rob Oliver: Yes. What you’ve said is so true because I think your use of the word fractured is very appropriate. And I don’t know, in psychology, I think that there was the concept of Skinner’s cat in which the thing was kind of all sectioned all up, but no one part of the body exists all unto itself. They’re all interconnected. And yet, as you said, the more specialized people get, the more their area of expertise is limited. And there needs to be a development of a team approach or a referral basis to make sure that maybe this is what the role of the primary care physician is maybe to say, okay, you have all of the specialists, and we’re going to be kind of the hub in the wheel through which all of the information flows and we pull together all of the rest of those specialties. What’s your reaction to that?

Bill McCracken: In an ideal world, that’s what should happen. Sadly, not every primary care physician understands that or is able to do that. He probably faces a lot of resistance because each specialist kind of considers their area of their Kingdom and they don’t want any interference. So I’m sure there’s some resistance. But the other person that the other professional that plays a huge role in that can be a nurse. I have a niece who’s a very intelligent, experienced nurse, and she works in the cardio area now. She was for years in emergency. She understands quite well the whole body and the impact. So she keeps saying to the cardio doctors, you got to think beyond just this little square in your chest. You’re dealing with a person. They may be diabetic. There’s maybe other things going on in their life. So you need to look at the whole picture. And she does that. She told me that she does that. So that’s another area where she plays that role. She just does it because of where she is.

Rob Oliver: Right. Okay. I would just like to make an official statement that enters the record here. And that is if you’ve been listening to the podcast so far, you would believe that the medical community is comprised of doctors, nurses, and dentists. And I firmly believe that it includes much more than that. It includes occupational therapists. It includes speech therapists, pharmacists, acupuncturist. Gabe did mention chiropractic. So there are a number. It extends way out. And to me, all of them have something to contribute, and all of them have a different way of looking at things. And because they have a different way of looking at things, they’re going to be able to give you they represent a viewpoint that you’re not going to get from the other practitioners, not that any of them are better than others. It’s just a matter of which ones are who’s looking at it. And how can we get all of the viewpoints to go together? What’s your reaction to that?

Bill McCracken: Very well said. That is very true. And it ties into what I was thinking earlier that relating to what the previous interviewee said. The perspective, I think, needs to be that I as a patient, come to a health care professional for advice, and I need to incorporate his wisdom and understand it. And maybe I need to ask questions, but eventually I have to at least filter what he’s advising me. And if I respect his wisdom, I will follow it. But that’s very different than coming to the guru to be fixed.

Rob Oliver: Okay, Bill, listen, we are out of time, but I still have two questions for you. So I’m going to squeeze your answers in quickly, if you don’t mind. Okay. I don’t think I asked you this. What do you wish your medical providers understood about you or did I ask you that?

Bill McCracken: Well, I don’t know, but I wish they understood that I’m one person.

Rob Oliver: Yes. So I did ask you that. Good. You know what? It’s great. I asked you the same question twice, and it’ll count more than once towards the Guinness requirements of five questions. And last question, did I ask you what is one thing medical professionals can start doing today to improve the quality of health care?

Bill McCracken: I think maintaining that, as the previous, I agree with the previous interviewee. Maintaining their humanity, remembering why they’re doing what they’re doing. Remembering that they’re treating people. All of those things.

Rob Oliver: Excellent. Listen, Bill, I appreciate you joining me today. I appreciate your help in moving forward with this Guinness world record attempt and I respect your perspective on health care.

Bill McCracken: Okay, well, thank you. I appreciate you, Rob. You’re kind of an inspiration to me. Of course I’ve known you ever since you were born.

Rob Oliver: I will say thank you for that and thank you for not telling stories about me from when I was little. Talk to you later, Bill. Thanks.

Bill McCracken: Okay. Thank you, Rob. Bye.

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All opinions expressed by guests on the Perspectives on Healthcare Podcast are solely the opinion of the guest. They are not to be misconstrued as medical diagnoses or medical advice. Please consult with a licensed medical professional before attempting any of the treatments suggested.

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