Health care’s virtuous cycle

August 8, 2008, 8:16 PM UTC

Last night I watched Hopkins, the final episode of the much-praised ABC documentary series about life inside Johns Hopkins hospital. Riveting and heart-wrenching. And better than ER ever was because it’s real life. Watching (and crying) last evening took me back to January, when both of my parents were in a hospital in Pennsylvania and clinging to life.

I’ve hesitated getting too personal on Postcards ever since I started this blog in June. But I’m feeling pretty close to readers now. So if you care to hear a bit of the story, I’d love to share. When my parents landed in intensive care together in January, the doctors and nurses at Lehigh Valley Hospital Center went above and beyond to make their final hours together (after 64 years of marriage) what they deserved. My mother died January 29–peacefully, beside my father, beds adjoined and holding hands. The ICU nurse who cared for both of them won the hospital’s service award. My parents got celebrated in the hospital magazine. (Click here to read the story.) My 87-year-old father recovered. Though he cries every day, he’s doing well.

At a time when health care gets criticized all around, I wondered why this hospital in Allentown, Pennsylvania performed so well. Sitting in that intensive-care unit one day as my parents were touch and go, I was restlessly skimming Fortune. I noticed LVHC on Fortune’s 2008 Best Companies to Work For list. I realized, that’s the secret–or at least one of them. Treat your employees well, and they in turn treat customers well. It’s a virtuous cycle.

P.S. Who is No. 1 on Fortune’s Best Companies to Work For list this year? Google (GOOG). Click here for the complete list.