WOW! That is how I felt when I arrived at the airport to fly to Washington, D.C. for the annual American Hospital Association meeting in May. I had the privilege of traveling on an Honor Flight. What an inspiring and humbling experience.
This flight, sponsored by St. David’s HealthCare, gave 60 of our World War II and Vietnam vets the opportunity to visit the nation’s capital and see the memorials created to honor their sacrifice. Most of the passengers were in wheelchairs, and all were traveling with an individual volunteer guardian, nurses and other volunteers from St David’s. They also were accompanied by EMS and coordinators who volunteered their time and professional expertise to care for these deserving veterans. All were inspiring, but none more so than the 104 year-old veteran who had served in three wars. This gentleman was the epitome of honor and dignity.
The flight was attended by the pomp and circumstance befitting the passengers’ sacrifice and service. Upon departure from Austin and again at arrival at Reagan National Airport, the plane was greeted by ground crew and fire engines offering a fire hose salute; everyone in the waiting area stood for a long ovation. Without St. David’s sponsorship and the volunteerism of its health care staff, many of these vets would never have the opportunity to experience this kind of expression of gratitude for their service or to visit their memorials.
Congratulations and a heartfelt thank you to St David’s HealthCare.
With that experience to start my trip, I was fully energized to participate in AHA’s meeting. For five days, nationally recognized policy experts, lawmakers and hospital leaders updated us on the current challenges facing the hospital industry. They also shared several innovative solutions to meet those challenges. I was particularly encouraged by the examples of hospitals’ going above and beyond to serve their patients and communities to the fullest despite funding cuts, excessive regulation and a toxic political environment.
St. David’s sponsorship of Honor Flights is just one example of how Texas hospitals are serving their communities and contributing to the fabric of community health and well-being. Hospitals across our state give back to their communities every single day not only through the delivery of high quality health care services but through programs and initiatives that make our communities better places to live.