Scoring a Home Run for Hospice Patients

Play ball! It’s “Spring Training” season here in Arizona, a time when 15 Major League Baseball teams from around the country converge on the Valley of the Sun for a series of practices and exhibition games preceding the start of the regular season. It’s always fun to watch new players hustling to earn roster and position spots, and to get an up-close look at some of baseball’s most familiar faces as they return for another season of competitive play.

Every year, I reward the hard work of my staff at Solari’s central support office in Scottsdale by taking them to a Spring Training game. As we sit in the stands with our peanuts and hot dogs, reveling in the game that’s been termed “America’s favorite pastime,” I always marvel at the teamwork of the nine players on the diamond. They are each specialists in their own right, and yet they rely heavily on each other to make the right plays at the right time. Baseball is a game of intelligence, skill, practice and cooperation. No one player can do it alone. Games are won with teamwork.

A few years ago, I read an article titled “The Ballet of Baseball: Lessons of the Game for Hospice” in the American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. In it, authors Linda Norlander and Thomas Grimmer compare the three fundamentals of baseball – pitching, batting and fielding – to the three fundamentals of organizational teamwork – clinical, operational and financial. Their premise is that the best clinicians (pitchers) are of no use if the office operations (batting) keep the patients (fans) out of the stadium and that no program can survive without the financial resources (fielding). I agree wholeheartedly.

When I hear the crack of the bat at the ballpark or the thud of the ball as it’s ensnared in a player’s glove, I can’t help but think about how heavily hospice relies on this same kind of intricate, well-orchestrated teamwork. At Solari Hospice Care, our highly qualified interdisciplinary team of hospice professionals and volunteers must work together to address the physiological, psychological, social, spiritual, and economic concerns of hospice patients and families. And, we need every player on that team in order to be successful – physicians, nurses, nursing assistants, social workers, counselors, chaplains, pharmacists as well as accountants, administrators, secretaries, billing clerks, marketing liaisons, information systems analysts and human resource professionals.

When one of my favorite Diamondbacks players, left-handed hurler Randy Johnson, pitched a perfect game against the Atlanta Braves in 2004, he didn’t talk about his own amazing talent at serving up strikeouts, but instead repeatedly credited his teammates for their efforts. In describing the event he said, “Everybody was battling today and made great defensive plays out there.” He talked about the great catches in the outfield and the quick pickups in the infield.  As great a talent as Randy is, he knew it took the whole team for him to be perfect!

Every day at Solari, we strive for that same perfection in delivery of dignified, compassionate patient care – drawing upon our individual talents as we work together as a team to give the collective best of ourselves in all that we do. To that end, we collaborate and communicate, rally and cheer, challenge each other and praise each other, and hopefully serve as each other’s best coaches, fans, supporters and advocates.

I am so proud of Solari Hospice Care and our many accomplishments! Go team!


About Solari Hospice Care

Gary W. Polsky is president & chief executive officer of Solari Hospice Care. Mr. Polsky's diverse healthcare leadership experience includes executive positions with Critical Care America, Summit Health and Humana, Inc. Founded in 2002, Solari Hospice Care is devoted to helping people live with dignity and comfort by providing trusted and professional hospice care in the Houston and Las Vegas communities. Focused on enhancing the quality of life for patients and their loved ones, Solari’s exemplary team of physicians, pharmacists, registered nurses, certified nursing aides, administrative staff and bereavement counselors are specially trained to offer the most compassionate and comforting care designed for each patient’s unique needs. To learn more about Solari Hospice Care, please visit, e-mail or follow @SolariHospice on Twitter.
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