This week, my son Owen turns ten. Each year, I'm brought back to the day he was born and the whirlwind of activity in the hospital. His birth was my first realization of the role packaging plays in saving lives.
For the past three hours, it had been eerily quiet. It was just my wife and I sitting in her hospital room, playing games on her iPad, waiting for our second son to be born. After 9+ anxious months, she was ready to deliver and the experience was, so far, a smooth one. Our doctor checked in, and it was time to meet our baby.
In a flash, the delivery room was flooded with six nurses and doctors. Their activity was efficient, and their communication was calm. We went from playing Candy Crush to push time in three minutes. Gowns on, instruments prepared, drapes and sheets in place. Everyone was ready to safely bring our messy new bundle into the world. And within 10 minutes, it was all over.
As we were holding our newest son, Owen, cleanup had begun. For the first time, I looked around and noticed the piles of paper and plastic on the operating room floor. I had worked in healthcare for many years, and the industry was smacking me with a quick reminder of how little I knew. Not once had I ever questioned how everything in the room—the instruments, drapes, and monitors—how it all arrived, safe and ready for these medical professionals to use.
In healthcare, the heroes are often easy to see. It’s the brave patient, fighting for their life with all they have. Or the motivated doctor, finding a diagnosis that will cure a patient. It’s the nurse providing healing and comfort. But the hidden heroes are just beyond the curtain, playing a role that is just as important. They are the designers, researchers, and engineers working to bring a new medical device or drug to market.
Were the sutures, scissors, and tubing all built downstairs in the hospital? Of course not. They were made in a factory far away from the operating room I sat in. Were they boxed up and hand-delivered here by elves or storks? Sadly, no. Instead, they were sterilized and shipped by plane and truck. In my blissful ignorance, did I have any reason to doubt that every product used was sterile and safe? It didn’t even occur to me.
My years at Oliver Healthcare Packaging have given me an appreciation for these hidden heroes. To all of you, including everyone in sterile packaging, thank you for doing your job well. Your dedication to improvement and patient safety allowed my wife and I to focus on our son, never doubting his safety. Now that I know all that goes into this effort, I have a profound respect for the hard work and skill involved.
(Now if you’ll excuse me, Owen wants his iPad back.)