So I was running on the treadmill yesterday and the Alison Krause song, “Down by the River to Pray” came on. It got me thinking about a leader meeting downstairs ten years ago or so. The entire leadership group came into the room singing this song and gave me socks for my birthday. (That now sounds very weird, but it happens to be a great memory.) The whole song thing was orchestrated by Paula Abbas. This was one of my favorite team moments – quirky yet caring.
This got me to thinking about Paula who is one of my favorite characters at Iowa Specialty Hospitals and Clinics. Years ago Paula was in a bad motorcycle accident. At that time, she told me later, she was looking to move on from employment here. She’d had enough. Then the accident happened. Paula spent a long time recouping from her accident in this hospital. We, as an organization, were just at the start of our journey, and Paula was able to witness the “special-ness” of this transition. She was one of our first trial patients, and she got the white glove treatment. During her healing process, Paula decided that she wanted to stay with an organization that obviously cared so deeply for its patients. This is one of my favorite transformation stories.
Years later, a founder of this hospital, Dr. Young, lay dying in one of our patient rooms. Now not a lot of people know this of Paula, but she is a great singer, especially bluegrass music. Doc Young loved her singing, and an incredibly special memory is when she brought her whole bluegrass band into his room and sang for Doc in his final moments. A large group of the hospital staff was in the hallway crying, touched by this amazing gesture. This was one of my favorite compassionate moments.
Another… poignant moment… I guess you can call it... was when Paula went to bat for the Clinic. I was working out and Annette called me. I answered from the treadmill and she told me to come back to my office as I was needed. I told her it better be important. I went to the office all sweaty, and Paula was angry to the point of throwing things (and she did). She got her message across and that moment really stuck with me. Paula is passionate. That was one of my favorite stories of leadership passion.
Paula isn’t going anywhere that I know of, but these stories resonate with me and show the depth and spirit of our fantastic team members. Thanks, Paula, I look forward to more memories!