South Florida Hospital News
Tuesday August 4, 2020

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February 2005 - Volume 1 - Issue 7

Publisherís Note: Leader of the Pack

Hello. My name is Charles. And Iím a pack rat.

I donít really know how it all started, how I developed this obsession with keeping everything. I just know it took my dedicated wife Carolís patience finally to run out before I could admit to myself that I had a problem, which, as we all know, is the first step to recovery.

We (make that Carol) have moved our family a number of timesóat least more than a dozenóand every time it has been the same old thing. There would always be the normal boxes of items that every family would pack. And then there would be my stuff: cartons and cartons of mostly useless materials, usually in multiples of six or more that I just couldnít force myself to discard.

Until recently, that is, when we moved once again, over the recent holidays. Thatís when Carol, pushed to her limit, handed me an ultimatum: either I clean out my clutter collection or she would. It was sort of a classic clash of television programs as my Fred Sanford, lord of the junk yard, met her HGTV-inspired Mission: Organization.

I knew I couldnít turn this over to a woman whose motto is, "When in doubt, throw it out" and who has conditioned our two sons, Josh and Drew, to always put away those things they value before she would "get busy" going through our house and discarding anything not in its proper place.

I remember, about 10 years ago, during one of our earlier moves, Carol waited until I was out of town to hold the Mother of All Garage Sales, where she cold-heartedly sold all of my Craftsman tools for twenty-five cents each. Of course, her rationale was, when you start with 100 screwdrivers (thatís right, I said 100), you make your money on volume.

So I swallowed hard and headed into the garage.

Carol couldnít have been more supportive (or maybe she just didnít want to miss a golden opportunity.) She helped line up all the cardboard boxes labeled with my name on the garage floor. Two large shelving units were waiting for me, already equipped with properly labeled plastic containers to hold those items that, legitimately, could remain.

In fact, during my nine-and-a-half straight hours (I am not exaggerating), Carol even brought in lunch so as not to break my momentum.

I wish I could tell you this ordeal wasnít painful, but it was. I found it difficult sifting through boxes of wires, cables, adapters, tools and various other sundry items. I even found an old Atari controller for a game I know we tossed out decades ago. I sat there, like a visitor to the Island of Misfit Toys, sorting, discarding, occasionally saving Ö and thinking deep thoughts amidst at least a decade of accumulated trash and (some) treasure.

I thought of all that I have learned and observed about health care over the past few months and how, sometimes, we just have to force ourselves to leave a comfort zone, roll up our sleeves and do the dirty work. We all like to hold onto our bad habits, and change is never easy. Often, as I did most of the time, itís easier to let the other person tackle unpleasant tasks, as Carol did when she conducted her stealth (but I have to admit, also lucrative) garage sale.

But fresh off my marathon session in the garage, Iím here to attest that there is nothing as satisfying as staying the course and doing the right thing: thatís true whether you are sorting through boxes of accumulated bric-a-brac, or trying to fix that which is broken in your facility or, to the extent you can, within the healthcare system in general.

Sure itís a big, and often unpleasant, job, but somebody has to do it. And those who do are true leaders because they lead by example. (Oh, and I can state from first hand experience, itís easier if someone arranges to send in lunch.)

Charles Felix

You can reach Charles Felix at
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