Deborah Hughes Nowak MD is a surgeon who has filled a missing gap in patient care. She has created a new company that provides outpatient surgery kits for patients who are discharged from the hospital after surgery. During the postoperative recovery, there are special medical and practical needs that can’t be met with items that are routinely found at home or even with a short trip to the neighborhood store. Her kits include necessities such a toiletries, cleanup materials and a few commonly desired medical items.
But this knack for helping recovering patients didn’t always come naturally for Dr. Nowak. She went to medical school because she wanted to do something with her life that had a greater purpose. Drawn to the pace of surgery and the satisfaction of doing lifesaving procedures with her hands, she thought the practical ‘lifestyle’ issues associated with a career in surgery would eventually work themselves out.
Yet, after 7 years training and 9 years of practice as a busy general surgeon with a husband and children, she began to feel like a cog in the wheel. She spent years feeling that she should be able to handle anything, not really feeling entitled to getting out of her unsustainable situation. Eventually, she ceased to feel that she was contributing to the greater good anymore, and burned out. Unable to find more balanced work options as a general surgeon, she finally left practice completely, without a definite plan in place.
She used her time off to reconnect with herself, her marriage and her kids. Shortly afterwards, Deborah’s sister-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer. Having always been interested in putting together crafts, and having worked as a surgeon for years, Dr. Nowak had the creative and the practical know-how to put together a care package that she felt could make her sister in law’s recovery a little easier. She used her common sense to put together a collection of items such as adhesive remover and ‘good tape.’ Her sister-in-law absolutely loved the care package, and Dr. Nowak realized that there is not enough care for outpatients during the surgery recovery phase. Even when recovering patients are physically able to leave the hospital, Dr. Nowak still sees that they have medical and practical and comfort needs that are not currently being met.
So she felt that there had to be a way to make postoperative patients feel more cared for to decrease their stress during recovery. When she couldn’t find post-op care packages on the market, she started shopping, calling medical supplies and honing her list. She found boxes, set up accounts and launched her company, Post-Op Provisions in July 2016. Currently, she has put together an outpatient surgery kit with necessities that include toiletries, bathing supplies, and help in dealing with problems such as lack of sleep and narcotic induced constipation. She also has a compartment that can include procedure specific postoperative needs, such as drains. The items in the gift pack last for up to a year, which is convenient for patients who might not use everything right away. She also has started offering gift cards and added wish-list capability so that patients can tell their loved ones what they would like.
And, she offers maternity packages too.
Dr. Deborah Hughes Nowak explains that once patients become medically stable after surgery, they still need a type of care that is not easily accessible in the community. And she is doing her part to bridge that gap.
More information about Post-Op Provisions can be found here.
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