When the siren wailed through the small Pennsylvania town where Thomas Gaylets grew up, the then teenager would run three quarters of a mile and jump into an ambulance or fire truck on its way to an emergency. As a volunteer, he helped deliver babies, learned how to read electrocardiograms, became familiar with medications and was mentored, in general, by paramedics.
It was an early expression of Gaylets’ social conscience and a seminal experience that determined his medical career. Gaylets is assistant vice president, nurse and manager of the interventional platform—where surgical and diagnostic procedures are performed—at Einstein Medical Center Montgomery.
Patriotism, too, was instilled in Gaylets when he was young. His father was captured during the Korean War and spent two and a half years as a prisoner of war. That experience made Gaylets’ father a fierce patriot whose frequent exhortations to be grateful to the United States inspired Gaylets to join the U.S. Marines after high school.
Gaylets has found a way to honor his patriotism in the context of his career, by creating two programs at Einstein Montgomery to recognize military veterans. Every veteran who’s an inpatient receives a large, oval magnet decorated with an American Flag that’s placed on the hospital door frame. “Anyone walking by will see it and may express gratitude or engage the veteran in conversation: ‘What branch of the service were you in? How are you feeling?’”, Gaylets said. “They get to keep it, and since it’s a magnet they can put it on their car, or on their refrigerator.”
Gaylets also created a way to distinguish veterans who come in for a diagnostic or surgical procedure, so staff can thank them and engage them in conversation about their service. They receive white caps covered with American flags instead of the standard issue blue caps given to other patients. Gaylets is developing other plans to honor veterans, such as putting a flag sticker on their charts when they’re admitted.
Gaylets’ patriotism, passion for medicine and propensity for community service earned him the honor of being named a Veteran of Influence by the Philadelphia Business Journal. “This is a great honor and will be shared by many,” he said. Gaylets and other honorees will be feted at a cocktail reception on July 21 at The Ballroom at the Ben in Philadelphia.
“My goal is for patients to have the best experience they can while providing the best quality medical care,” Gaylets said. “I take everything personally. I treat every patient as if he’s my father.”