My father Mansfield Doi was undergoing endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, or ERCP, a procedure used to correct a narrowing in the bile ducts. The advantage of ERCP is that it is non-invasive, but after repeated procedures showed limited effectiveness, his UCSF gastroenterologist suggested surgery.
He was referred to Dr. Hobart Harris, Chief of the Division of General Surgery at UCSF, who determined that medically he was a candidate for surgery. However, because of his age – my dad is 86 - Dr. Harris encouraged us to coordinate with the UCSF Surgery Wellness Program, which was a new program at the time.
That’s when we had our first consultation. I found the service to be a novel way of approaching health care holistically. Rather than visiting a different clinician for each part of the body and problem, it offered a whole person, whole family, and whole support system approach.
One of the greatest benefits was being assigned a health coach - Diana Teng, a registered nurse (RN), - to follow us through the process. As my dad progressed through his hospitalization and rehabilitation, we saw how closely everything is tied together, for example, physical therapy relies on proper nutrition, and it was important for him to keep moving for recovery to progress. Diana offered a sense of continuity and provided advice, guidance and a familiar face, not just to my dad, but to the whole family.
We didn’t expect that we would need the service for as much or as long a period, but it was really nice that it was there. Initially, we didn’t know what to expect. Dr. Harris had mentioned that it was a multispecialty approach – we thought maybe a physical therapist and geriatrician working together.
We knew it was a pretty major surgery for someone of his age, and we were pleased that it went well. But we were challenged when a huge laundry list of complications came after.
It was immensely helpful to be made aware of everything that it would take to recover, especially for an older patient, and the group prepared us for the different levels of recovery. Today, I am happy to report that my dad is again living independently. The Surgery Wellness Program provided a lifeline throughout our journey, and for that, we are extremely grateful.