Kidney Stoned!

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By Bill Algee, CRA, FAHRA

I was awakened last Friday at 1:00 am with severe kidney and back pain. I quickly realized that I was about to have another battle with a kidney stone. My workplace is about to become my respite from the pain and I was about to experience what our patients do every day.  Since I arrived so early in the morning I was pretty sure that most people wouldn’t know who I was and so I would get to do a little secret shopping (until the Dilaudid kicked in!). I can tell you, from the greeter in the ER until I was discharged on Saturday afternoon, I experienced great care. I interacted with Radiology, Registrars, RN’s, Patient Care Techs, Lab Tech, Respiratory, OR personnel and Dietary. Every single one of them lived out our mission: “To improve the health and well-being of the people we serve.”  Like most of you, I typically work day shift Monday – Friday and pop in periodically to round with staff on other shifts. So I wondered if all shifts across the organization are truly living our mission. I can honestly say that I believe we do. I received excellent care at every level. I don’t think most of them knew me, unless I brought it up in conversation. I was definitely a secret shopper and my CT tech was a rock star!

Many of you may be wondering why I am sharing this story. This situation has significant meaning to this time of year, and especially in my role as President of the AHRA. In 2009, I was the AHRA Annual Meeting Design Team Chair in Dallas Texas. On Tuesday during the meeting, I suddenly became very ill and unbeknownst to me, was experiencing my first kidney stone. The experience back then was much different; I went to an Urgent Care Center which was not equipped to treat with someone in my condition. I went back to the hotel and a few hours later to the emergency room at Baylor Grapevine. Since my pain was so out of control, they kept me overnight and with the help of some strong medication I was able to attend the final event theme party, complete in cowboy boots and ten gallon foam hat! To this day I am so grateful to my wife Lisa and my Indiana AHRA family who assisted me on my uncomfortable flight back to Indiana on Thursday… it was horrible. I passed the stone on Friday at the doctor’s office.

Although I hope none of you experience a kidney stone because they are simply the work of the devil, I do hope if you experience healthcare at your own facility, it is exceptional. I believe we all work very hard every day to create an exceptional patient experience. But, I will tell you that until you are lying in the bed, you really don’t know. Being on the “other side” really makes one reflect on how we are leading by example and what behaviors we are reinforcing.

That time in Dallas has been on my mind since I was elected President and I have been fearful that the scenario could repeat itself, but I am pleased to say that I have the kidney stone thing out of the way and I am ready for the Annual Meeting in Denver.

Your love is like bad medicine
Bad medicine is what I need; whoa
Shake it up just like bad medicine
There ain’t no doctor that can cure my disease

“Bad Medicine” – Bon Jovi


Bill Algee, CRA, FAHRA is the 2018-2019 president of the AHRA Board of Directors. He is the director of imaging services at Columbus Regional Hospital in Columbus, IN and can be reached at

One comment

  1. Bill,
    I am so glad you are feeling better and hope you never experience this type pain again. See you in Denver.

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