10 Years Later: Patty & David Skolnik Share What They Feel Today

Patty and David Skolnik were again faculty at the Telluride “East” Patient Safety Summer Camp this week. They came to lead the discussion after sharing the educational documentary film, The Story of Michael Skolnik, and their family’s story, with almost 75 medical and nursing students and resident physicians. As always, and as quite an understatement, the film is part of the patient safety intensive curriculum that illuminates the need for change in healthcare and healthcare education–not only to make it safer for all, but to also cultivate the skill sets that engender meaningful conversations built on honesty and trust between patients and providers. Following are reflections shared by Patty and David today, ten years after losing Michael to medical harm. Thank you, Patty and David, for your continued presence within healthcare, serving as a reminder that we still have much work to do.

David and I feel many emotions 10 years after our son’s death:

  • Anger that we have lost our child unnecessarily
  • Strange relief that Michael is no longer suffering
  • Unexplainable sadness that Michael is gone and his dreams are unfulfilled
  • Guilt for making decisions we regret because we trusted the doctor and didn’t look further
  • Awe at the courage one young man could manage. Michael was a fighter; he had unbelievable strength to fight back
  • Admiration, immense admiration for the love and unstoppable caring he showed through his horrible ordeal
  • Appreciation for what we all learned from Michael, he had no room for weakness, failure or lies
  • Regret that we lost our best friend and a large part of our souls
  • Happiness that we had a child that never hesitated to participate in life or have any goal intimidate him
  • A love of Michael’s was sailing. Through sailing he learned: ingenuity, resourcefulness, trust, caution, adventure, discipline, and perseverance

Michael has also taught us many other lessons that I want to leave with you, namely that we all have choices, choices about how we live and how we die. If Michael were here he would tell all of us:

  • To smile always
  • To laugh daily
  • To sing every chance you get, whether others think you can or not
  • To dance, even if you have to do it in a wheelchair or bed
  • Not to feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life
  • To meet new people and make new friends everyday
  • To enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.
  • Get to know your family and especially your parents. You will likely discover that they are the best friends you will ever have.
  • Do one thing every day that thrills or excites you
  • Respect those that earn it
  • Be the Best medical professional you can

We are determined to make a difference for Michael’s life. This is what Michael would have wanted–to have his voice still heard and all the others that have no voice. Thank you for what you do and for helping us keep our promise to Michael–that we all leave the medical field better than he found it.



2 Comments on “10 Years Later: Patty & David Skolnik Share What They Feel Today”

  1. Barbara Shoemaker says:

    Michael Skolnik has beautiful dedicated parents as does Josie King have a beautiful dedicated mother. It is heartwarming to know that these parents have persevered for a decade or more in an effort to leave the medical field better than their children found it. They are making tremendous strides as are the healthcare providers who have been privileged to hear them speak who are committed to delivering safe quality care and who are also committed to leaving the healthcare field better than we found it.

  2. christianlillis says:

    Patty is an amazing advocate. She and David have created a lasting legacy for Michael. I’ve learned so much for their example. xoxo

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