To work is a privilege

Eric M. Hitchcock is a physical therapist and Chico citizen

I began working in Chico as a physical therapist a dozen years ago for a hospital that no longer exists. Soon thereafter, I had a patient who was involved in a serious motor vehicle accident resulting in injuries to his back, legs and brain. He pushed himself hard in physical therapy, and he eventually overcame his back and leg problems.

While his brain injury was also healed, he nonetheless perseverated on ideas that he felt were very important. Again and again he told me, “To be able to work, it’s such a privilege. You are so lucky that you can work.” I would smile at him and give him a semi-sincere. “Yeah, you betcha,” and go on with my job. I did not realize at that time how right he was. Listening was not a skill that I put much emphasis on back then.

If only I could see that same patient today, how I would thank him for his wisdom. To work really is a privilege. I am grateful to my parents, who gave me the tools to become what I am. I am grateful to my wife and daughter, who support me in what I do. And I am grateful to Enloe Medical Center for allowing me the honor of practicing health care in this town.

Health-care work, I have learned, is a symbiotic combination of science and art. Art, I have learned, means little unless we look, feel and listen with our hearts. Science, in its pure form, is unbiased, logical, and at times it tells us things we may or may not want to hear. But without the art of listening, the notion of healing will strain to manifest.

Communities with good health care versus those without—let’s consider such places. They exist worldwide, in these United States, and even in pockets of Northern California. Every bit of demographic data one can find will support the fact that those communities with quality hospitals and health care are the ones that thrive and progress. Health care is a common denominator of sorts; regardless of our political or religious leanings. The one thing that can be agreed upon is that we all want and need quality health care.

With this as the case, we can all support and heal our community via listening. The July 30 CN&R editorial ("Enloe lets go of ego"] highlighted how the Enloe administration and the hospital’s neighbors are actually listening to each another. Credit goes to both parties. What a great start. And while more work is still to be done, may I paraphrase the words of a wise man I met a dozen years ago: To work together is a privilege.