Our individual professional success is greatly dependent on the many people who assist and partner with us along the way. To arrange our days, to keep us on track, and to serve to make us more effective in what we do. To represent us and to cheerlead for us. To make us far better than we can be when left to our own devices.
My great fortune is to have had Pat Pillon as my right hand. No one has had a greater impact on my ability to get things done during my HFH career.
Our partnership was not unique, and many others could express the same sentiments about their essential assistants. I do think most people would acknowledge it was special. It was atypically long, spanning 28 years at Henry Ford Hospital, from a time when I was a staff physician to my current role as CEO and President of this great organization. Trusted as much as one can trust another person. As close to family as one can be.
Pat was always there to keep me on track. We laugh that some of the most important things she would do would be to read my handwriting (even when I couldn’t read it myself), make me laugh, and if needed, cover for me or interpret things for me. She could also interpret me to others. Maybe she could be called the “John Whisperer,” in knowing what I was thinking without me saying it.
She was my eyes and ears to know about what was really happening, and protected my blind side better than any left tackle protects the quarterback. Her computer skills or lack thereof earned her the nickname, “Bill Gates.” But she would have been great even without a computer on her desk.
Her relationship and advocacy for my patients and for all the patients at Henry Ford Hospital was incredible. I would refer to her as “Dr. Pillon” in that she seemed to know what to do, who to call, how to reach them, and how to arrange exactly as I would myself (well, not the arrange part). When in distress, call Pat. When you need a referral promptly, call Pat.
I don’t know what you pay in New York for the type of concierge service Pat provided, but trust me, it would not be affordable to most of us. Or as good. But for our patients (and I stress that every one of my patients was “our patients”), it was provided for everyone, from the most recognized names to an assigned patient from the emergency department. Compassionately and always with a personal touch that made you think Pat was your best friend.
And she loved Henry Ford Hospital and her people. Defended the place when needed, challenged when we faltered, but always for the benefit of others or to make things better. Hated the BS, the unnecessary and people laying out the barriers, pulling the rank card, or putting on airs.
She essentially knew everyone who you needed to know to get things done. Not tomorrow or by requisition, no, to get things done now. Ask the people behind the scenes who make this hospital run, behind the desks, in the tunnels, walking the corridors. The often nameless, faceless people, seldom recognized individually, but the reason we can do what we do. You know who you are. You were all Pat’s people.
I am writing this piece with a deep sense of loss on the day that she is leaving Henry Ford to start her retirement. People ask me what I will do without Pat. I am lucky to be able to share Ronnie Hall’s assistant, Candy Coleman, who is another of the gems in our Henry Ford crown. Candy will take good care of me and the office. But honestly, whatever I professionally do for the remainder of my career will not be as fun or as effective without Pat.
It was a great ride Patty. I already miss you. We already miss you.