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Lawrence Pratt

Lawrence Pratt, a security officer in the Penn Presbyterian Medical Center trauma bay, does everything he can to support distressed family members and patients – whether that means tracking down information, praying with them, or getting them a snack.

Relatives of trauma victims are often upset that they can’t see their loved one – the hospital policy allows a limited number of visitors, with approval from the trauma team, and only after the patient is situated – and Pratt approaches each interaction with professionalism and empathy, said PPMC Director of Security Yaya Diakite.

“If he can’t let them in the building, he makes it part of his job to go to the chaplain, who gets the information from the doctor or nurse to pass onto the family members,” Diakite said. “Or he’ll say, ‘You need water? You want me to get you something? Go sit in your car, and I’ll call you.’ He goes way above and beyond security.”

As a Level 1 trauma center, PPMC sees some of the most severe cases from across the city, and with the surge in gun violence, that means many gunshot victims. Pratt lets family members know he’s been in their shoes, living in West Philadelphia and having lost loved ones of his own to gun violence.

“I let them know, ‘I know you’re going through what you’re going through, and it’s my job not to make it worse, but try to make it a little easier,’” Pratt said. “If you’re calm, they’re calm. It’s not a hard job.”

Pratt says he wasn’t always so patient, but a collection of life experiences has made him a better listener. He served a decade in the U.S. Navy during the two Gulf Wars, had a stint as a drug and alcohol counselor, and has worked at a senior living facility doing housekeeping and maintenance.

“Officer Pratt does his work with diligence and compassion,” said Trauma Chaplain Josh Edgar. “He takes pride in being able to connect loved ones with the care team in a warm way, and often is quite intuitive around what the best way forward is. This is a gem of a trait to have for trauma care, because there is not much that is predictable.”

During Pratt’s shift in the trauma bay, when he’s not screening patients for weapons, he takes time to walk by patient rooms, making sure all is calm. He’s not afraid to put himself between an aggressive patient and a staff member – one ED technician said the staff sees him as their protector – but sometimes all that’s needed is a listening ear.

“There was one patient who was coming down from a drug high. He was acting out, cussing, destroying the room … I talked to him and found out all he wanted was a sandwich,” Pratt said. “So I got it for him.”

At Penn Medicine, we all aspire to be Difference Makers who represent the Penn Medicine Experience (PMX) in action. PMX sets a consistent standard across all of our entities and work locations to make every touchpoint an opportunity to build enduring connections with patients, families, visitors and colleagues, which is a foundational part of the UPHS Success Share program.

Do you have a Difference Maker on your team? If so, let us know! Email Daphne.Sashin@pennmedicine.upenn.edu.

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