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Extraordinary Compassionate Care – Dr. Devin Odom

Amber Sweeten, RN, and Devin Odom, MD

Dr. Devin Odom was featured in the November issue of Physician Connect by Barnes Jewish Hospital for his exceptional patient care during a patient’s last moments in the hospital. The family of the 94-year-old woman sent a letter to BJH President, Bob Cannon, expressing their gratitude to Dr. Devin Odom and Amber Sweeten, RN, for the compassionate care and respect the family experienced. Below is the excerpt from Physician Connect.


My 94-year-old mother was a patient on 11100. Though she died – she noted several times, “I can’t live forever!” – I still want to let you know about the extraordinary care she received.

The nursing care was exceptional by all of the nurses. I want to give special recognition to a nurse named Amber who cared for Mom on her last day of life. The floor was full. There were many demands on Amber’s time and energy. But she made time for Mom. She was cheerful every time she entered the room. She took care to closely monitor Mom’s deteriorating condition. She went above and beyond to bring Mom comfort, even tenderly massaging her back when Mom simply couldn’t get comfortable. Amber was responsive to our questions and concerns; she called the hospitalist when she noticed changes, and when we wanted more information. After Mom died, I asked Amber to read a prayer that my niece had written for Mom because I knew I couldn’t read it aloud without losing my composure. Amber read the loving remarks in a firm, clear voice. My sister and I will never forget Amber’s competence, sensitivity, tenderness and good cheer.

In most hospital experiences, it is the nurses patients remember most, for better or for worse, because they usually have the most contact with patients and families. I also want to acknowledge the physician who cared for Mom on her last day of life, Dr. Devin Odom. I regret the lack of personal connection patients in the hospital have with their doctors since the advent of hospitalists. They are strangers treating strangers. Dr. Odom, however, delivered the type of care that patients used to receive when their own doctors treated them in the hospital.

The most essential need patients and their families have is information. Dr. Odom followed Mom’s condition closely and regularly communicated with us. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, powerless and ignored in hospitals but this was not our experience. Dr. Odom asked me to talk to him in the hallway, away from Mom, when he told me he was “very concerned” about her decline. We discussed options and realistic expectations. He explained the issues patiently and clearly. He did not rush or push. He helped us make decisions by simply listening and answering our questions honestly but with compassion. I felt that he really cared.

He was with Mom when she drew her last breath. My sister and I stroked Mom, and Dr. Odom knelt on the floor at her bedside while Amber read my niece’s prayer for a peaceful journey from life to whatever comes next. Before he left, he expressed his sympathy and hugged me.

Every minute we were in the hospital with Mom was painful. Yet, Amber and Dr. Odom made a solemn, sad experience peaceful for Mom and us. I wish you could use their faces and voices in posters and videos to advertise what patients deserve and can receive in a hospital experience. It was surprising and extraordinary.” *

*Physician Connect – November 27, 2018



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