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Taking It to Heart

Juliette and her little brother Will

Nemours commercials a hit, but hitting home with providers, too


It's a simple yet compelling spot. Against a verdant backdrop of siblings gleefully playing outdoors, a young girl's voice can be heard: "Dear Dr. Dadlani, I love you for fixing my little brother's heart. When I was a baby, you helped fix a hole in my heart and now you fixed Will. Thank you for making it so we can play together again. Love, Juliette."

While reading the sweetly scrawled words for the first time, cameras were rolling on pediatric cardiologist Gul Dadlani, MD. His heart seemed to skip a beat.

"It was definitely humbling," said Dadlani, division chief of pediatric cardiology for Nemours Children's Hospital in Orlando. "It was one of those few moments ... when you get positive feedback ... all the hard work and effort are worth it. And it puts everything in perspective."

During his 13-plus year tenure, Dadlani has helped more than 13,000 young souls. Yet he remembers each story. Juliette, the youngest of four girls, required surgical intervention as an infant unable to gain weight. After experiencing Juliette's transformation, the family adopted a small boy already diagnosed with congenital heart disease. Dadlani treated him, also.

Terri Wilsie, director of brand marketing for Nemours Children's Health System, explains the concept genesis: "We had an opportunity to tell our story quite succinctly about our physicians and centers of excellence. We were tieing our patient's point of view with our message, and our doctors' responses were a very nice secondary benefit."

Wilsie said Nemours doctors had no idea what to expect when summoned for a meeting. "Dress nicely" was the only hint.

"They stepped in front of the camera and were handed a piece of paper to read," she explained. "The doctors quickly discovered the paper was a letter written by a patient family expressing their appreciation for lifesaving work. The TV spots beautifully capture the emotional reaction of the physicians."

The heart-tugging commercials not only remind Orlandians of the rich healthcare expertise in Central Florida; they provide rare "attaboys" for doctors practicing medicine in a highly litigious society. In a sense, the letters are communal.

"Compassion fatigue is so high right now," said Angelina Whalen, LCSW, noting the extreme form of burnout leaves some doctors physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausted.

"Doctors don't always know how a patient's story ends, or how the outcome impacted the entire family," said Whalen, founder of Valor Counseling at Lake Nona. "Just knowing they've made a positive difference in the life of a patient is why they do what they do."

In the series, Fabriola Weber-Guzman, MD, one of three pediatric interventional radiologists in Orlando, is visibly moved while reading a thank-you letter from the mother of a young female patient, while Julie Wei, MD, an ENT specialist, tears up about an appreciative note from the mother of a baby boy patient.

"We've had a lot of positive feedback," said Dadlani. "A couple of people have randomly come up to me in the hall and said the commercial just made them want to cry."

Click here to see the Nemours/Dr. Dadlani commercial.

Click here to see the Nemours/Dr. Wei commercial.

Click here to see the Nemours/Dr. Weber-Guzman commercial.

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