Compassion Comes from Attention


It was late summer and Diane was arriving for what she thought was just a routine office visit. But as soon as she walked through the door, the staff noticed she was very ill and would require immediate attention.

After observing Diane in a patient room, her cardiologist, Dr. Sabharwal, informed her that they would need to call an ambulance to take her to Bon Secours St. Mary’s.

Remarkably, at her insistence, Diane actually drove herself to the hospital. Sometime later that night, with no recollection of what happened in between, she recalls coming to while on life support in the intensive care unit at St. Mary’s.

“I was stunned and frightened,” she says. “Because I didn’t anticipate waking up in an intensive care unit. And then I guess the sunlight came in that next morning and Dr. Sabharwal came in. And right then I felt at peace, because there was my doctor.”

It turns out Diane was suffering from a myriad of medical issues, including pneumonia, congestive heart failure, blood clotting in her leg and two leaky heart valves. The Bon Secours Heart Team had worked around the clock to stabilize her condition.

Today, a healthy Diane tears up when she reflects on the whole experience.

“St. Mary’s… they were amazing. I can’t say enough about them. Every single person that came to do something for me treated me with respect and compassion. If I hadn’t received the type of care I received in the hospital, I would have left two wonderful sons alone.”

For Diane, good help is compassionate care — and Dr. Sabharwal.

“What comes to mind is a picture of Dr. Sabharwal. It really does. The kind of care I got from him and his staff… I’m in awe.”


Dr Sabharwal from Bon Secours on Vimeo.

Vipal Sabharwal, MD

Stories like Diane’s are what get Dr. Sabharwal excited about coming to work every day.

“Diane’s an amazing patient,” he says. “She’s been seeing me in the office for several years with a chronic cardiac condition. But she got very, very sick and had to be in the ICU. It took a lot of doctors, a lot of nurses and a lot of time. We had to put together a team to help pull her through this. But that satisfaction that we get from seeing her walk around is an inspiration for all of us in our office, in our daily lives as we carry on the good help that we do.”

For Sabharwal, practicing medicine without compassion isn’t really practicing medicine at all.

“We’ve got to take the time to listen to our patients, talk to our patients and give them our full attention. That’s where compassion comes from.”

Diane recalls another office visit with Dr. Sabharwal, during which he asked her if she’d been taking one of her medications.

“I said, ‘no, I’m still not working and couldn’t afford to get that one filled,” says Diane. “He said, ‘Ms. Paige, if you ever have any problems getting your medications and you should need anything, call my office and let them know and we will help you get your medication.”

“I was in disbelief,” she says. “I went home and told my son. He said, ‘That’s a good doctor.’ I said, ‘Heck no, that’s a great doctor!’”