Monday, December 29, 2014

What does Chambersburg Hospital have in common with the Greatest Show On Earth?

Picture a trumpeting elephant, a spotted giraffe, a smiling oak tree... and a white-bearded man with twinkly blue eyes. Behind them, an army of neatly rowed pines with brightly colored flip flops on their bows, fluttering gently in the breeze.

Nearby, a shop filled with any sweet you can imagine – from home-made fudge to the largest selection of Pez on the East Coast. Fresh roasted peanuts too. After all, it is a home for the stars of the Greatest Show on Earth: a collection of over 12,000 elephants.

Everywhere you look there is something whimsical. Even the music wafting in the air is reminiscent of a happy gentle time. It’s magical, this place - Mr. Ed’s Elephant Museum and Candy Emporium, founded by local entrepreneur and the “P. T. Barnum of Route 30”, Edwin Gotwalt.

Recently, however, the mastermind behind this hugely popular destination, “Mr. Ed”, was literally knocked off his feet with a serious illness and was hospitalized for a week and then spent several months recuperating.

Almost fully recovered, Ed Gotwalt is eager to share his experience. “I started to have swelling in my leg. It came on fast. When it became excruciating I went to my doctor,” Ed recalls. “My leg grew four times its normal size.” Fearing that it could be a stroke-causing deep vein thrombosis (DVT), Ed was sent to the Emergency Department at Chambersburg Hospital.

He could have been very cranky... But, this is “Mr. Ed” we’re talking about.Ed’s condition turned out to be an infection that involved the skin's deeper layers. “They admitted me and gave me massive doses of antibiotics to combat the infection,” he recalls. It was disappointing enough to be away from his family and his business, but on top of that Ed and his wife were forced to cancel their dream trip – a European river boat cruise.

Ed describes the care he received at Chambersburg Hospital: “The people were always nice –the nurses, doctors, housekeeping – everyone. The rooms were spotless.Even the woman who cleaned my room would ask me ‘Is there anything I can do to make you more comfortable?’” Ed says emphatically.

Ed knows a little bit about customer service. He’s lived and breathed it since he was very young. As a boy, he sold outdated calendars door-to-door. Then, with only an 8th grade education, he worked his way up the ladder to management at a major grocery chain in the DC area. “I didn’t know at the time, but they brain-washed me,” he chuckles. “The customer is always first.”

At Chambersburg Hospital, Ed was impressed by the level of attention he received from his nurses and other staff. “I don’t think they knew me as “Mr. Ed,” he prefaces. “Every night a nurse woke me for a midnight pill. Then I was given a warm blanket. That was a neat thing… like a spoonful of sugar! I got used to that warm blanket but my wife wouldn’t do it when I came home,” he says laughing.

Ed’s patient experience flowed over to his family. “When they visited, my nurses offered them something to drink,” Ed says. “That was nice. Like a hotel!” It was that kind of attention to detail - the kindness of the staff, the cleanliness of the rooms, a cup of ice cream each night, the warm blankets, and best of all, the care he received.

“It was all the little things that made it a great experience. When I tell my friends about my experience at the hospital they seem surprised. It makes me sad to think that negative impressions are out there,” Ed says. “I’m happy to tell everyone that my hospital experience was just great. I know no-one wants to be in a hospital, but if you have to be, Chambersburg Hospital is the place to go.”

During his stay he met hospital CEO, Pat O’Donnell, and COO, John Massimilla, who happened to be delivering pretzels to patients. Pat and John had purchased them from an employee fund-raiser for a new patient emergency fund. Ed was pleased to see hospital leaders visiting and talking with patients.

“I know a little bit about customer satisfaction. I give talks to local business leaders and civic organizations about the 10 Commandments of Good Business,” he explains. “It’s the same thing with a hospital and Chambersburg Hospital is doing it right.”

Today, “Mr. Ed” smiles warmly as he greets returning customers here all the way from Texas. “We’re baaack,” the woman calls out. Ed Gotwalt is glad to be back too.

Chambersburg Hospital – We were here when “Mr. Ed” needed us and we’re here for you too.

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