Her husband went from telling the evening news to being the news, and Lee Woodruff took on a role no one could have predicted. When ABC News Anchor Bob Woodruff was injured by a roadside bomb while reporting in Iraq, Lee immediately took on the role of a lifetime caretaker to a loved one with a traumatic brain injury.
With four children waiting for their dad to come home, Lee was determined to walk out of those hospital doors with her husband, but there was a long road to that day.
Woodruff was invited to Texas Children’s Hospital by Physician-in-Chief Mark W. Kline, M.D., who asked her to speak at the Department of Pediatrics grand rounds expressing her patient perspective.
“You probably don’t hear this from us as patient families enough, but thank you,” Woodruff said to the group. “As you do your job, I hope you remember that families heal together, so include them in the equation.”
Woodruff asked the auditorium full of physicians to remember to care for the entire family. She recalled a turning point during her husband’s hospital stay when someone asked how she was doing. A moment she won’t forget, patient-and-family-centered care at its core.
For Woodruff, whose husband endured a difficult path to recovery, there is one message she finds most important. While being sensitive to not giving false promises, she asked providers to think before the difficult discussions.
“Just think, ‘How can we have this conversation differently?'” Woodruff said. “‘How can you leave room for hope?'”
For Woodruff and her family, it was the nurses who provided that hope by sharing stories of success and survival of other patients who had brain injuries similar to that of her husband. Woodruff held on to that hope and eventually did see her husband wake up, regain his strength and recover from his brain injury. She said those few months in the hospital changed her perspective and left her forever grateful for the work of those dedicated to healing the sick.
Bob Woodruff did eventually walk out of that hospital room with his wife and continues to report at ABC News. Now a CBS News contributor and New York Times best-selling author, Lee has partnered with her husband to use their experiences in inspiring groups like the physicians at Texas Children’s and to help wounded veterans.
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