Walk Down Memory Lane

I have been fortunate enough to walk in the shoes of some of our outstanding employees, and as a result, have gotten to know many of them.

During my most recent Walk in My Shoes experience, I was able to visit an old friend and colleague, O’Neal Sanders.

O’Neal is a respiratory therapist with 40 years of experience and knowledge at Henry Ford Hospital. For years, I walked alongside O’Neal as a pulmonary physician, but never truly “walked” in his shoes. I was curious as to what keeps him passionate about his job, what he does every day, and how things have changed in his profession.

Not surprisingly, O’Neal is just as passionate about his job today as he was 40 years ago.

While it feels like just yesterday when we battled as young men on the basketball court, it was obvious how much respiratory therapy has changed over the years.

The technology has expanded tremendously, allowing for safer and more efficient ways to treat the patient.

Respiratory therapists are now able to help patients with life support, using novel inhaled treatments like nitric oxide and helium, newer forms of mechanical ventilation, airway management and breathing treatments, among many other things.

Despite these changes, O’Neal has taught both the students he interacts with on a daily basis, as well as his colleagues, the importance of listening to the patient.

As many in health care know, listening to patients not only helps in the diagnosis and solution, but also adds a sense of compassion for both the provider and patient. O’Neal understands how rewarding this can be, and I think we can all learn from or be reminded of that.

While watching O’Neal interact with students, Intensive Care Unit physicians and residents, and his colleagues, the importance of teamwork was clear – something I have noticed in each and every one of my Walk in My Shoes encounters thus far.

Like so many of our Henry Ford employees, O’Neal was not the first person in his family to work atHenryFordHospital. It is clear that the skill and talents of O’Neals’ mother have transcended, as O’Neal works to make sure our patients receive the best possible experience, each and every time.

The above video offers a glimpse into my experience with O’Neal.

If you have any questions for O’Neal about Respiratory Therapy, his history with Henry Ford, or even how he finds the strength to work out every day at 3:30 in the morning, please post in the comment section below.

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3 thoughts on “Walk Down Memory Lane

  1. O’Neal, congratulations on a tremendous career! This Doc in the D post brought back great memories for me of my days working in the MICU when I first came to Henry Ford. The concept of teamwork was very strong then, too, and I learned a tremendous amount from Drs Popovich, Eichenhorn and Conway, and RT colleagues O’Neal and Walter. Keep up the great work, O’Neal, and “thanks for the memories!”

  2. Seconding Carrie’s comment …. as a new grad, I couldn’t have asked for better classroom than working with the amazing team of physicians, nurses and respiratory therapists in the MICU to learn about teamwork and continually striving to learn and improve – or – a better role model than O’Neal to learn what it really meant to be a respiratory therapist.

    Thanks, Dr. Popovich, for this great feature. Thanks, O’Neal, for nurturing so many of us all of these years!

  3. I truly enjoyed watching the video. I am a non clinical employee, but I thought it was great to see Dr. Popovich talking with a fellow employee, and sincerely taking an interest in him, The lines of the “hierachy” often seen in medicine are blurred in this instance. This is another example of what we hear and see at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital. The CEO and the Senior Staff here are very approachable and care about its employees. Thank you for sharing this experience with all of us.

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