Like Grilled Cheese, Patient Safety Can Be Contagious

20140617_113839Confession… I am hooked on three foods – Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip Cookies and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches. I keep a spoon next to the peanut butter jar in the cabinet and always zero in on the Mrs. Field’s when I get to the mall. Grilled cheese sandwiches, like mom used to make, have been more challenging to find until this year’s Telluride Patient Safety Roundtable and Summer Camp.

While walking through town this year, I came across a grilled cheese cart right on Main Street. It was set up across the street but like Pavlov’s dog, I crossed quickly while beginning to salivate. Dickie, the wonderful woman who owned the cart, offered several different types of grilled cheese sandwiches, and these were not your average grilled cheese either. Dilemma time – what should I pick? Habanero cheese, cheddar and bacon, apricot and brie…I had a big decision to make. I finally settled on the more traditional cheddar and bacon, and with one bite I was hooked.

During the next two weeks, I found myself sneaking out during lunches, skipping the traditional Summer Camp faire, and quickly walking the three blocks to Dickie’s stand to get my fix. By the fourth day, Dickie was letting me sample some of the newer offerings she was considering before adding them to the menu, including a Brie and Tart Cherry sandwich, which quickly became my favorite. I was in heaven.

telluride grilled cheese3My noon habit was soon discovered however, and after a couple of days, students and faculty alike started to notice my quick, back door exit as soon as the group broke for lunch. They started to question the grin on my face as I sat in the back of room, eating something out of a paper wrapper. To my surprise, but not before weathering a number of creative cheese jokes, people began to ask if they could join me on this grilled cheese pilgrimage. By the last two days of the Roundtable, we were like lemmings…a line of committed people walking to the grilled cheese cart. We became a “village” with a mission.

So why am I sharing this? Be it grilled cheese or patient safety, it only takes one passionate person to start a village. The mission of the Telluride Patient Safety Summer Camps has been to take passionate and caring young healthcare leaders and show them how to create their own village of like-minded colleagues at their institutions. These young leaders have been creating their own patient safety villages back home, and it is clear this movement is becoming contagious. I am reminded of Margaret Meade’s mantra, a thought I have often returned to on the journey to make care safer throughout my career:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

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One Comment on “Like Grilled Cheese, Patient Safety Can Be Contagious”

  1. Ann Nickels says:

    Since I share your fondness for grilled cheese, I really get this!


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