COMMUNICATIONS lecturer Dr Godfrey Steele reckoned his book on medical communication was largely inspired by his personal experience of being in the dark over his own mother’s illness when he had stayed hours in hospital with no news.
He launched his text, Health Communications: Principles and Practice, on Wednesday at UWI, St Augustine. Also offering supportive remarks were UWI colleagues Prof Hari Seetharaman, Dr Maarit Forde and Dr Marie-Louis Brown Dottin; Prof Donald Rubin of the University of Georgia; and Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh.
The book is based on Steele’s years of research, teaching and creating courses in medical communication since 1995. It guides doctors, students and health professionals on communication skills in diverse health settings.
Steele said one night he came home to an unexpectedly dark house only to find his mother inside and strewn out on the floor. Having rushed her to hospital, Steele spent the time from sunset (6 pm) to 10 pm waiting there but without anyone talking to him to tell him what was happening with his mother. At last a nurse whom he knew from childhood passed by and gave him an update. “Your mother is in a terminal situation,” he related of the nurse’s words. “But we will do our best.”
No doctor had spoken to him, Steele recalled, and his only solace was due to the fortuitousness of him having personally known the passing nurse.
“That must have played a part in my interest in healthcare communication,” he surmised.
Steele said it is important for doctors to talk to each other and to patients in a way that is helpful and respectful. “I am thankful that this 20 year project has now come to fruition.” Also present was Steele's wife, Dr Linda Steele, who just retired as senior assistant registrar at UWI, St Augustine, plus his brother. Steele dedicated the book to the memory of their son, Jonathon, who had been pivotal to his interest in healthcare. "My parents would not have imagined I'd be here talking to you today. How my parents raised me impacted me and the book."