American. International brand, marketing and communications specialist. Strategist. Storyteller. Accidental life saver. That’s me: Joe Danielson.
The Joe story. I wrote my first story at the age of four. By story, I mean more than just combining letters into words, sentences and paragraphs. I mean using written communications to make people feel happy, sad, inspired, motivated, informed, loved and so much more. Of course, when I was four, my family was my readership. And the subject of my first story was ants playing tennis. But it was a start. I sharpened my skills as a writer when I discovered journalism and marketing in college. I gained a degree in journalism and started working as a journalist. Then I won an internship at America’s top-ranked international business marketing agency in New York City. And realized that clients would pay me good money to help them write as well as develop, implement and monitor communication strategies, concepts and tactics. I moved to Sweden in 1994. Today, I have two wonderful teenage boys. And live in Lund.
Joe and Swedish healthcare. I’ve had the good fortune to have partnered with many highly talented Swedish and international scientists, medical and dental specialists, clinicians and caregivers in my work. And have long felt that Sweden is home to some the best care anywhere. As I have written for one client: Sweden has a long tradition of delivering high quality, economically viable healthcare. For many years Sweden’s health care system has regularly ranked at or near the top of most comparative analyses of various international health care systems.
But societies, the people in them and the systems meant to uphold them change. And the long-standing truth that Sweden = top care quality is in jeopardy.
Care quality in Sweden faces some tough challenges moving forward. For instance, Sweden already has the second highest life expectancy in the world: 83 years for women and 79 for men — at the same time its citizens keep living longer. This increases demands on the universal health care provision enjoyed in Sweden; older means more and more complex patient conditions as well as the more expensive and time-consuming treatment. Meanwhile, there is a shortage of health care professionals working at all levels in Sweden — both in the short- and over the long term. As important, competency of those working in healthcare today is at risk. Not only are there not enough Swedes seeking admittance into healthcare provision education and training today. For many of Sweden’s current healthcare professionals, there is an absence of the necessary incentives — in the form of salary and career development opportunities — for people to want to learn. For example, not only do nurses who wish to gain specialist training, but they also must often finance their education by themselves.
Those are just some of the healthcare issues today. Issues that resulted in me experiencing the scariest and longest minutes of my life on the night of May 31, 2015.
The accidental life saver. May 31, 2015 was when I almost lost Mia as I was holding her in my hands. Here’s the story.
I was at home in Lund when Mia called me at around 2200 to ask if I could come help her — she was headed to the hospital emergency ward in Malmö. She was in pain due to a kidney stone passing. Her parents were taking her there but could not stay with her. When I got here, she was doing OK but in a lot of pain.
She told me that she had already taken two pain killers before coming to the hospital. And had been injected with two or three more after I arrived. About 10 minutes after having given the last injection, we were lying down together in the hospital bed. I was holding her when I noticed she started to drift off — high on the medicines. Then she began to have some sort of seizure.
I was still holding her when the seizure started: her body became as stiff as a board. And she stopped breathing! I began calling for help. Louder and louder. Many times in the span of a few seconds. But nobody came! So I ran out of the room to get help. As I entered the corridor screaming, I turned around to see Mia fall from the hospital bed and hit her face on the concrete floor. She fractured her eye socket. Her skin tone was blue/grey — her heart had stopped beating.
I saved Mia’s life simply by bringing facts to the attention of the team of caregivers on call that night. They responded and were able to bring Mia’s heart and breathing back. And then they asked me back into the room to explain what happened. I was the only source that could describe the patient condition events that transpired in that room that night! Me, a non-medical professional. Yet, all these events had occurred in an emergency room full of advanced equipment that could have been used to monitor and track her condition over every split-second of her stay. Maybe they thought these tools weren’t needed? But here is the facts of the matter: Mia was given numerous injections of drugs of varying strengths and types. They were administered by staff that were too busy to monitor the patient themselves. In fact, the total time they could be aware of Mia’s condition were the few seconds they were injecting her with drugs.
It all could have been avoided. And the routine I witnessed that night —overburdened emergency room staff administering heavy drugs to a patient, then leaving her without any qualified monitoring as the they work in total ignorance of that patient’s condition elsewhere — should never be the routine. In fact, it’s poor medical and operational practice.
All of which explains why I am in this advocacy group.