Toolkit can show nurses the other side of the patient experience

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Deb Andelt did everything “right.” She ate healthy, practiced yoga, never smoked, and rarely consumed alcoholic beverages. But at the age of 48, she became so sick she couldn’t walk, couldn’t drive, and couldn’t move.

 A series of exposures to environmental chemicals was to blame.

“I was misdiagnosed several times,” says Andelt, now 53, who consulted more than 20 types of healthcare practitioners before discovering toxins were depleting her body of nutrients. “Now it seems like a miracle that I even survived.”

After receiving extensive nutrients via an IV, sound healing, chelation therapy, acupuncture, and various other forms of treatment to restore her health, Andelt wants to help others. She has poured the knowledge she learned from her challenging illness, interactions with a variety of practitioners, nurses, and healthcare facilities, and recovery into a resource—The Toolkit to Empower Healing—that focuses on enhancing patient care on physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual levels.

“It took numerous people and approaches to support my body to heal at the cellular level,” she says. “And I landed in a space intuitively, as a patient, to know what worked and what didn’t work with some practitioners. It is about an experience.”

Being exposed

Andelt’s first exposure to toxins was during a 1990 vacation in California when chemicals were being sprayed on fruit trees.

When Andelt’s physician diagnosed her with a virus, her instincts told her it was something more.

Andelt had three other similar experiences during the next 10 years, but when the feeling returned following a water taxi ride in Venice, Italy, she didn’t ignore it.

“I was inhaling gas fumes for 45 minutes. The next day I woke up with this internal feeling from head to toe—as if quick sand was inside my body,” says Andelt.

After an MD, MD(H), a homeopathic physician, ran a series of tests, she found Andelt’s nutrient levels were depleted and parts of her brain weren’t functioning. Andelt also learned managing her allergies with Benadryl, which contains the ingredient Acedametaphine, hampered her body’s ability to deal with external toxins.

Being inspired

Through all her appointments and visits, Andelt learned the key to improving the patient experience. She says it is to inspire everyone who practices in the organization to be an agent of healing.

Andelt, who trained as a lawyer, developed the evidence-based, holistic toolkit in the summer of 2008 with this principle in mind. She conducted research and paired up with her sister, a customer experience consultant who often worked within hospitals. The two combined their intellect to center the toolkit on helping individuals and organizations change habits, processes, and decisions to support the five attributes of an effective healing experience:

  1. Intention
  2. Supportive sensory aspects
  3. Positive emotions
  4. Relationship
  5. Connection

"As patients, you want to be in situations where these attributes are happening. Our tool addresses all of those," Andelt says.

For example, using the toolkit, a nurse can set an intention at the beginning of every shift and work this intention into every aspect of the care he or she provides. Andelt says this could be to interact with patients in a way that supports them to heal.

"I can remember only one time [being sick] when a nurse said 'Let's take a few minutes here and get these good nutrients in your system so you feel better.' It would have been nice to here someone articulate that, but some nurses internalize these things."

In regard to creating positive emotions, Andelt says research shows there are five feelings that support the healing process. Furthermore, the toolkit can help nurses align their daily practice with these healing feelings:

  1. Comfortable
  2. Connected
  3. Understood
  4. Strengthened
  5. Renewed

"It is about doing what's possible to bring patients to a place of comfort," Andelt says. "I think nurses realize letting a patient emote is part of the healing process and that it is not just their job. They are playing a huge role in that patient's life—in that moment—to support them to heal."

Editor's note: For more information about the toolkit, contact Andelt directly at