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Business Before Burgers

It was burger day today. Or so I thought. A couple weeks ago a pharmacist friend of mine and I planned to get burgers and catch up after work. He’s retired now, but we used to work together and I greatly value his friendship. He lives in Westford, MA. I drive right past Westford on the way home when I’m woking from Methuen, which I typically do on a Tuesday. A restaurant called Burtons Grill is conveniently situated right off the highway, has plenty of comfortable seating, and decent food. I woke up thinking about it.

Speaking of waking up, I got myself out of bed around 4:30AM today. I knew I had to be on the road by 6AM at the latest. I had a big Zoom presentation to lead for the soon-to-open cancer center satellite in Foxborough, MA at 7:30AM. All the oncologists and nursing team would be listening as I shared how the specialty pharmacy program would support their team and their patients taking oral chemotherapy.

I made my coffee and settled into my recliner to read. I got hung up in Judges 2 though, and didn’t get all my regular reading in. The text that grabbed me was a sobering one. Israel was acting unfaithfully to the Lord. And we read in Judges 2:15Wherever they went out, the hand of the Lord was against them for calamity...” That’s a frightening thought. Yet that is how the Lord consistently represents His disposition toward believers who toy with sin. I’m convinced we give far too little attention today to this doctrine of chastisement. No, not every calamity is due to our sin. But today the Christian church seems to think that virtually none of our calamities are due to sin. I think we’re wrong.

The 7:30AM meeting went well. Praise the Lord! I’ve done this “talk” a few dozen times, but you just never know what kind of questions might arise. The rest of the day looked pretty manageable. A couple more meetings. A one-on-one with one of my direct reports. Run some mid-month financial reports. Juggle a few more projects. It would be burger-time in no time.

Then it happened. We were alerted that The Joint Commission (TJC) arrived and was beginning their 4-day hospital wide credentialing survey. For those who don’t know, TJC is a rigorous hospital accreditation that requires a visit from them (always a “surprise” visit) about every 3 years. We knew it was coming at some point soon. We just didn’t know when. It was today. Add to that there was a staffing emergency happening in another area of the hospital and I was asked to participate in a 6PM meeting to brainstorm options. Goodbye buddy. Goodbye burger. Oh well.

I texted my friend and told him we would have to re-schedule. Business before burgers. A text from my boss alerted me that the surveyor might want to visit my pharmacy. I walked around with the manager, and we prepped the team. They can ask staff any questions they want. The main focus is patient safety. But we reminded the team not to be nervous if questioned. Just smile. Answer briefly. And if you don’t know, don’t fake it, just explain how you would get the answer.

The tension always rises at times like this. But I’ve been through this before. In pharmacy you have to be ready for surprise inspections at almost any moment. This is par for the course. I cancelled a few of my afternoon meetings to ensure I was free and available should TJC want to talk to me about our operation. But it turns out they didn’t. Their stop today was brief. One day down, 3 more to go.

My 6PM meeting subsequently got rescheduled and as a result my evening was free again! I texted my buddy to see if he was still available. He was! Burgers were back on! Well, I actually ended up having a salad with buffalo chicken and a beer. We talked about pharmacy. We talked about Jordan Peterson. We talked about C.S. Lewis. We talked about the Perseverance of the Saints. C.H. Spurgeon. The economy. Family. Church. We covered a lot of ground in an hour.

Got home around 7:30PM to find my dear wife having dinner with our daughter, talking about wedding plans. I’m just glad I don’t have to worry about having my hair or makeup done.

Photo by amirali mirhashemian on Unsplash

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