Laurie Mott with her husband, Ron, prior to her injury.

Laurie Mott was preparing a big family dinner one day in April when she experienced a terrifying emergency. “I had the table set and everything ready,” she recalled. “I reached over the boiling potatoes to grab the onion powder for the gravy, and that’s when my shirt caught fire.”

Despite the shocking turn of events, Mott — who was one of the first women to volunteer as a Boston firefighter and is also married to a retired firefighter — acted on instinct as she extinguished the flames and called 9-1-1. She was transported to the Brigham’s Burn Center, where she remained for 16 days to recover from the injuries she sustained.

During her time at the Brigham, Mott was eager to understand her condition. She asked her care providers to explain the possible treatments for the burns that extended over her upper body and learned from the nurses on her team how to dress and clean her burns, working hard to participate in her treatment plan.

“She was so sweet and very interested in learning about her condition and her own role in her healing,” said Mary O’Neill, RN, one of the members of Mott’s care team.

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Providers informed Mott that a skin graft operation could significantly reduce her chance of infection, decrease her recovery time and improve her overall health care outcomes.

At first, Mott had reservations about the surgery. Not only did she hope to return home as soon as possible, but due to burns under her arms, the operation, which would involve a transplant of healthy skin from other areas of her body to the skin affected by burns, would require one of her arms to remain extended for five days following the operation. Mott worried about discomfort and limitation to her mobility.

Anupama Mehta, MD, medical director of the Burn Center and Mott’s physician, listened, explained all treatment options and then encouraged and empowered Mott to pursue what she felt was the right treatment for her. “Understanding a patient’s lifestyle and where they’re coming from is important when creating individualized, relevant treatment plans,” Mehta said.

Delivering Patient-Centered Care

Being considered an essential member of her own care team made Mott feel more comfortable with the idea of undergoing surgery, she explained. She felt particularly comforted by O’Neill, who supported Mott as she adjusted to caring for her burns and helped answer her questions. When she first saw her burns and worried about what her treatment plan might be, Mott recalls tears coming to her eyes, but she felt reassured by O’Neill, who said, “This is your body. You’re involved in taking care of it.”

After discussing all options with her care team, conducting her own research on the operation and witnessing the collaboration and mutual respect among the members of the Burn Center, Mott elected for the skin graft.

She recalled feeling reassured by the high regard that care providers showed to one another at the Brigham. “Everyone respected each other and played such a wonderful role in my experience,” Mott said. “After I decided to proceed with the procedure, I felt relieved because I was sure it was the right thing to do,” she said.

In thinking back on her time at the Brigham, Mott fondly remembers the kindness her providers showed her. Lauren Pozerski, RN, would bring Mott cups of tea from the nurses’ station after noticing her love for the beverage. When her hands were bandaged, the patient care associates helped her eat. “The little things really made a difference,” said Mott. “They treated me so well. I can’t say enough about them.” Mott was moved to write letters to her physicians and nurses before leaving the hospital, thanking them for their care.

This summer, Mott celebrated her 70th birthday at home, surrounded by her family. While Mott faces obstacles as she continues to recover, she is glad to be home with the support of her loved ones. For now, she is enjoying her husband’s cooking — and looks forward to preparing and sharing a meal with her children when she’s ready to return to the kitchen.