Dr. Christine Perry was presented with the second annual Janet M. Wendorf Outstanding Caregiver Award

Dr. Christine Perry was presented with the second annual Janet M. Wendorf Outstanding Caregiver Award during the Annual Gala at the Country Club of Lansing on October 13 for a variety of reasons, including her penchant for treating patients like they are family.


"I truly try to imagine that every patient is my family member, no matter their background" she said. "I treat the indigent person the same way I would a farmer and the same way I would a politician. They're all someone's family member."


That philosophy was firmly implanted in Dr. Perry's mind when she graduated from medical school in 2007. But it really took root in 2010 when she was practicing at Harrison Medical Center in Bremerton, Wash., and her 22-month old daughter, Cynthia, was diagnosed with kidney cancer and had to undergo surgery and the chemotherapy that followed. Cynthia is 9 now and "flourishing," according to her proud mom, an attending physician in the Emergency Department. But Dr. Perry will never forget the fear she felt when she learned her daughter had cancer.


"All the medical knowledge I had went out the window," she said. "I felt stripped of my education, and was down to the bare bones of being a mom. I kind of went into survival mode where you want to protect your young and do what you can."


Dr. Perry spent a lot of time with her daughter at Seattle Children's Hospital during the ensuing year and half, and noted the different ways caregivers made them feel comfortable. She has used many of those techniques to become a more compassionate doctor, and the empathy she displays for patients is well known amongst her colleagues.
Dr. Tressa Gardner, acting medical director of the Emergency Department, said Dr. Perry "sets the standard for all of us in patient care" and is "phenomenal" in how she speaks with patients and explains to them what is going on during an examination or treatment. She added she makes every patient "feel special, and as if they are the only patient in the world."


Dr. Janet Eng, a medical toxicologist, said Dr. Perry is understanding, insightful, genuine, and very good at listening to patients.
"She not only addresses their medical needs," Dr. Eng said. "But she addresses their emotional needs as well. And if there are family matters that need to be addressed, she will do that as well."


Further compliments came in a letter from a father from Livonia whose high school-aged son sustained a broken leg while playing in a hockey tournament in Lansing on a Sunday morning. He and his son were very worried about the severity of the injury as they drove to McLaren Greater Lansing, a hospital they had never been to. However, they began to feel better after conversing with a nurse in the Emergency Department whom the father wrote was "quickly empathetic and comforting to a couple of guys in stress."
Dr. Perry put them further at ease when she introduced herself by her first name, spoke to them about what had happened, informed them about what she was looking for during the examination, and treated his son "as if he was her own relative."


The end result was when the father and son left the hospital, after being escorted to the front doors by the nurse and orthopedic technician who treated them in addition to Dr. Perry, it had been "one of the best experiences" the father had "ever encountered in the medical profession."