Coming Together, As One, for a Critical Care Colleague

Alex Kleinschmidt and the colleagues who supported him through an illness
Alex Kleinschmidt, RN, and some of the colleagues that supported him

Alex Kleinschmidt, RN, knew all his life that his heart condition would eventually force him into surgery. 

If he had control of the situation he would have wished the timing worked a little bit better in his favor. 

Alex started working for the Critical Care platform at South Shore Hospital this past August. He moved halfway across the country to be closer to his family in Massachusetts to do so. He was learning a new unit, a new job, and a new place to call home, when he started feeling tired and run down a few weeks on the job. 

When he went to see his cardiologist, they all knew what was coming. 

“The doctors wanted me to have the procedure done right there,” Alex said of his November checkup. “You can imagine my distress. I just started this new job and I knew that I would be out for a while. I wasn’t sure what footing I’d be on because I knew I was still in a probationary period and only had a couple days built up of time off. It was all a very stressful time.”

At South Shore Health, the term “family” gets thrown around a lot when we talk about our respective teams and departments. People watch out for one another, through good times and bad. Alex’s colleagues in Critical Care and Human Resources were no different. 

Alex worked with HR to explain his situation and his direct colleagues pooled about eight weeks of Paid Time Off (PTO) and several gift cards to make sure Alex was taken care of during his time off. 

“We’ve done a lot to build a close-knit team up here in the Aubut CCU and on Pratt 6,” said Kerry Flannery, RN. “It was amazing to see the outpouring of support for Alex during his time of need.”

Some gave a couple of hours of PTO, while one unnamed colleague gave 72 hours to Alex to help him get through his surgery and recovery. 

“My family has been blown away, me more than anybody,” he said. “It’s been incredible to think that here I am a new person and everybody contributed. Some people I hadn’t even worked with directly. Maybe I had said a ‘hey’ or a ‘hello’ or a hand shake at orientation, but I didn’t know a lot of them well. It’s been really something.”

Alex returned to work on February 5. He said he was nervous coming through the door to get back to work. He is feeling healthy and, most importantly, grateful for his colleagues. 

“It’s like oh my god, I’ve got big shoes to fill now,” he said.

“To me, how could you not be moved by people you don’t know who gave their hard-earned time and money? The amount of worry and angst I had during my recovery has been gone. This is a special place.” 

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