Hygeia®, symbolic of the Greek mythological goddess of health and healing for which it is named, concerns my interpretation of the human dimension of healthcare and uses new technologies to share age-old feelings and lessons providing poetry, essays, software programs and personal communications to improve comfort, quality, safety, access and patient-centric approaches to healthcare services.
The software programs and services of Hygeia® advocate for the safest possible healthcare experience. The foundation of this quality experience begins with optimal communication between the patient and the healthcare provider. Families achieve optimally healthy outcomes when their care and resources are provided in an atmosphere of:
open (transparent), effective healthcare / provider communications
shared decision-making process between and among families, clinicians and nurses (teamwork)
evidenced / experiential based practices -all occurring within a milieu of consistent and compassionate care
support that fosters understanding, compassion and hope; the human dimension of healthcare.
"Though our spirits may fade and our viscera bleed, we are enabled by the agents of our humanity empowered by ancestral song and promise"(Berman, 1999)
The poetry of Hygeia is about the human experience, hope and despair; about celebration and sorrow. But mostly, it is about Hope. Forms of expression implicit in symbolic language; poetry and verse, song, prayer and ritual, have served a role in all cultures and societies to dispel the tears and foster the healing of death and human loss. Why does poetry triumph as a source of enduring inspiration and hope?
Comfort may be achieved through the transfer of the poet's feelings into the reader or listener's mind. It transports the reader from the distractions and influences of the outside world inward to the internal rhythms and solace of the personal soul. The poet becomes a healer and his poetry his staff. Through verse and meter, free of inhibition yet full with expression, the poet may articulate a sensitivity and empathy and provoke this introspection and inner peace. A poem is transformed into a message of hope. There is wonderment and magic in the words of a poem. Each word is selected for its individual meaning within the context of the entire poem. A few properly selected words can move the reader to tears and awaken the primal emotions of joy, promise, despair and hope. A poet should evoke emotion in his work and write as if each poem is written with the poet's last words.
The language of poetry, within the broader context of its 'parent body' (literature,) has always had as its great themes, love, loss and death. The inclusion of hope to these thematic elements is worthwhile if not essential for, (as humans) we have the capacity to bring hope to a despair that is uniquely created by our humanity and our human conditions.
As an Obstetrician, my professional career has involved a striving to bring comfort and healing to children, born and yet to born, and to mothers through their years of childbearing and beyond. It has been the cause in my life. I have been uplifted by the triumphs of birth and healing and depressed by the failures. Yet I have always tried to look beyond the failures in search of the triumphs. I have counseled patients at the darkest times of their lives, when their children have died, and I have turned to the comfort of personal reflection, poetry and self-expression to better help me help my patients. I have learned that by writing down thoughts which might elucidate my feelings more clearly than the spoken word, I have become a better physician.
HISTORY of HYGEIA®
HYGEIA® has been online since 1995 and now has now in 2019 has transitioned into a site to focus on the human dimension of healthcare as well as thoughts and introspections of human condition while remaining committed to the promise of its original mission to comfort families who have endured the tragic loss of a pregnancy or newborn child. Hygeia® is fraught with the understanding that each year in the U.S. 30,000 infants die within the first 28 days of life. (1 in 144) and 25,000 (1 in 123) are stillborn. One in five families experience the pain of miscarriage (approx. 900,000). Throughout developing countries, the rates and number are manyfold increased. The impact of these losses is great, affecting parents, surviving siblings, grandparents, extended families and friends. Talking to one's health care provider and accessing the full range of physical and psycho-social support required is often a challenge. Although bereavement support is available by mostly branches of national organizations, the support is fractured and difficult to access. Families reaching out for support, or experiencing a recent loss, require support which is available when they need it, not when the monthly support group meets. Families desire and require support that is tailored to their specific needs. For example a family who has lost a child and is considering conceiving again or coping with subsequent pregnancy has very different needs than a family trying to make decisions regarding funeral arrangements for their recently departed child. All individuals searching for solace should have access to appropriate resources. Hygeia brings these resources to those in need using three domains:
Original Poetry (this poetry will be available at this time only to registered users.)
A large international database of families who have lost a pregnancy or newborn child. This database includes families that registered with Hygeia beginning in 1995-and can give their perspectives on their stories, some beginning now more than 25 years ago!
Stories of loss and hope to which the user can contribute.
When a user joins the HYGEIA® community for pregnancy and neonatal loss, he/she will be able to participate in an exchange of stories and thoughts on a message board and in a supportive private, international e-mail community between those who have experienced the grieving of a failed pregnancy, fetal demise, stillborn infant, perinatal, neonatal and early childhood loss or genetic abnormality leading to pregnancy termination. The HYGEIA® community grew to become the largest online database of its kind-over 30,000 families- and by virtue of its size, the Registry permitted users to find another parent with a very similar loss as their own.
"Reaching out and trying to make people more aware of the grieving that comes with any pregnancy loss or infant loss, is wonderful. And making a place for us to go, and share our experiences with people who will listen and understand is wonderful too. When I read all the stories about all the pain and heartache that is felt worldwide it saddens me but in a way comforts me knowing I am not alone. Strangers we may be, but yet we are connected by a common thread the loss of a child and that makes us all soulmates."
HYGEIA® was taken off line for several years and now with renewed energy and a new, more current platform, HYGEIA® is returning to the Internet in an effort to reconnect those who first joined and connect new families who might benefit from sharing thoughts with other new families as well as reach out to those who experienced losses up to 25 years ago to relate how they have been able to grieve, remain hopeful and endure.
HYGEIA HEALTH SYSTEMS, LLC
HYGEIA® has added a new focus as I, it's Founder, have re-directed my career over the past 7 years. Still passionate, involved, committed and affected by the need to help families who endured the tragedy of pregnancy and neonatal loss-and promoting humanism in medicine, I have added to my passion working to improve patient safety in hospitals, ambulatory care centers, short term and longterm care facilities and other locals where a patient's safety is paramount.
Hygeia Health Systems LLC is an entity which provides programs and services to the public, to healthcare teams and others with a mission to enhance communication, clarification, engagement, quality, safety, trust and humanism (the need for healthcare to be personal and humane with empathy and compassion) within the healthcare system. Hygeia Health Systems, LLC provides its transacted business through Internet-based programs, programs distributed as Software as a Service (SAAS), personal communications (virtual and face-to-face) and the rendering of professional reviews publications and lectures. Many programs and services are provided pro bono. Please contact me for more information
Michael R. Berman, MD, MBI, FACOG
Founder and President
Hygeia Health Systems, LLC