Seeing the best in you.
Bunmi Aganmayo always knew she wanted to be a nurse, but she didn't know she wanted to work in psychiatry until she gave it a try. From that moment on, "I was hooked." She currently works as an ECT coordinator for patients receiving electroconvulsive therapy, one method of treatment for severe and persistent mental illness. Bunmi says working in psychiatry is so rewarding because you get to see the different sides of a person. When patients come in they are sick, and with proper medication and care, they can become their best selves. She enjoys being a part of that process, providing reassurance and explanation to patients as well as good old-fashioned kindness. Bunmi also strives to be her own best self, and recently received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing. "There's so much to learn. I have to keep getting better and better at what I do."
Helping Patients and Families Find Their Way
"I’m a guide through the traumatic spiritual and emotional terrain of a health crisis," said Margo Richardson, summing up her role as a staff chaplain. Patients and families often struggle with questions like "Why me?" or "Why am I being punished or abandoned?" when they get sick or injured. As she listens to patients tell their story, she follows their lead and pays special attention to the sources of strength and support they mention. She then provides the spiritual care right for them, whether it is prayer, a ritual or re-connecting them to their core strengths, values, and faith. "I know I have done my job when I witness people getting to a better place. They begin to find meaning in what is happening, cope with life changes, and find hope."
Our reputation as "the hospital of choice" inspired Walter Chesley to take on the role of Vice President of Human Resources at HCMC. Soon after he started in 2013, this reputation was put to the test when he was admitted to our hospital for a health crisis. During his time as a patient of HCMC, Walter was pleased to see our reputation embodied in his day-to-day interactions with staff. He witnessed firsthand the seamless care coordination, staff members’ special ways of connecting with patients, and their welcoming approach to family and visitors. Walter’s experience as a patient deepened his appreciation and respect for our outstanding workforce, and he believes that investing in employees positively impacts care quality and outcomes.
There's something about HCMC.
"My job is to support employees from day one," said Jenny Dutra, a learning consultant who manages New Employee Orientation. Jenny welcomes all employees to HCMC, sharing our culture and other important information to set them up for success. With her boundless energy and positive attitude, she gives new employees the jumpstart they need to be fully engaged with the organization, each other, and our patients. Her philosophy is "happier, more engaged employees lead to better patient care." Jenny is truly proud of our staff and the organization: "HCMC's mission fits me. The bottom line here is always the people." It's why she left the financial industry for HCMC, why she gave birth to her daughter here, and why she loves coming to work every day.
I’ve Been There
For Burn Center physician Jon Gayken, "Being present for patients means putting myself in their situation" – literally. When Jon was 17 years old, he developed a life-threatening blood infection and spent three months in HCMC’s Burn Center undergoing multiple skin grafts. "I know what it is like to ask for pain meds and to be in their situation," he said. "Some of those feelings and emotions will never go away." Jon believes that this special connection to patients helps him provide better treatment. His story of leaving the Burn Center and coming back as a doctor is not only a powerful inspiration to his patients, but a daily reminder for himself of how far he’s come and why he’s here today.
Anticipating Your Needs
"I promise to anticipate your needs before you even know you have them." By being fully present for patients and putting their needs first, Priscilla Aguilar performs her duties as a member of our Registration staff while providing the best possible customer service. When patients and families arrive at our Emergency Department in a health crisis, the last thing on their minds is talking about insurance and demographic information. A simple gesture like offering a blanket for warmth, or water for refreshment, can help ease their anxieties and transform an ordinary healthcare experience into one that they will never forget. This focus on the patient’s needs enables Priscilla to better do her job. "I am always aware of the situation and recognize that every patient is different."
MONTY & SANDRA
One great team.
Sandra Bergner entered Monty Millsap's life when he was hospitalized multiple times for congestive heart failure. When Monty first met his clinical care coordinator, he was apprehensive. But it wasn't long before Sandra's time, attention, and expert coordination among his healthcare providers inspired Monty to give himself that same level of care. "A crucial part of his amazing recovery is his own work and effort," said Sandra. Monty goes to at least two or three appointments a month and takes many medications in order to stay healthy. He knows Sandra always has his back and is there for him when he has questions or needs help. The trust and teamwork between these two has been life-changing for Monty, who is now able to walk and breathe entirely on his own. "He hasn't been readmitted once since January 2013," said Sandra. "That is huge."
My family and my home.
"For 42 years, I've lived within these walls and have seen HCMC through the eyes of a patient, a student, a teacher, a surgeon, a leader – and even a musician," said Dr. Don Jacobs. It all started in 1972 when he was a medical student, and today he is our chief clinical officer. Across all his roles, his focus has always been patients. "If you put yourself in the patient's shoes, you can be quickly guided to the right answer." His entire career has been spent listening to patients and helping create a healthcare system that is centered around their needs. Dr. Jacobs says it has been a tremendous privilege and invaluable gift to share in the lives of his patients and colleagues. "My career is nearing an end. What remains, first and foremost, are the people – our patients, our staff, and our partners in care. I always want to stay connected to HCMC."
The Right Way
If you’ve been to our downtown campus before, you may recognize a friendly face in Joe Sedlachek. Joe has worked at our Welcome Services desks for almost 22 years, answering questions and helping visitors find their way. Joe makes a lasting impression on the people he serves by trying to remember the name and face of everyone who stops by. "I always remember people’s names. I find that it eases the nerves of our patients and makes their experience better." With his upbeat and friendly demeanor, Joe’s goal is to set the right tone for their visit. "I want to set a good example for the organization. We are the face of HCMC – the first and last impression."
I Don't Hate the Doctor Anymore
"Before I came to HCMC, I always hated going to the doctor," said Yasmine Sidibe, a patient and volunteer. When she injured her hand and came to HCMC for the first time, she found a place where she felt at home. Her friends even joke that she should move in! "My providers take the time to make me feel comfortable, answer my questions, and make sure I understand the treatment plan.” Her positive experiences as a patient inspired Yasmine to volunteer at HCMC. She remembers one burn patient with whom she spent extra time because his family lived out state: "He was my rock star. I told him that I was his #1 groupie. His nurse told me she hadn’t seen him smile like that before." Volunteering has always been in Yasmine’s heart, and she is happy to be able to fully express her passion at HCMC where she says there is a "culture of helping."
Better Than Ever
An employee for 26 years and a patient for nearly as long, Brad McFarland has seen Hennepin transform over the years. He has always considered HCMC one of the best, and even chose to have his kidney transplant surgery here as well as all of his primary care. In recent years, however, Brad has also seen HCMC make positive strides in meeting the needs of patients and families that extend beyond excellent clinical care. For Brad, who works in the telecommunications department, one of the most important things we can do is support the lines of communication between patients, families and providers. "I have seen how much of a priority it has become to help patients stay connected with their loved ones,” says Brad. "Families and friends have a very important role on the health care team, and we have a responsibility to encourage their involvement in patient care." There is no doubt that Brad is proud of HCMC and the care provided here, now more than ever.
Gift of caring.
Dominique Rodriguez loves her job working in the HCMC Gift Shops. For her, it's more than just a place to sell cards, balloons, and flowers. The Gift Shop is a sanctuary where patients, families, and staff can go for a break from their day. "It is one of the least stressful places in the medical center for people." She plays a part in creating this comforting environment by making connections with her customers. She greets everyone who visits with a wave and a smile, and when they leave she always says, "Enjoy your day." She is also there when they need to talk or even get a hug to feel better. "I'm here to listen and offer a comforting hug."
One Improvement at a Time
Katie Kummer doesn’t wear scrubs or a stethoscope, but every hour of her work day is spent thinking about how we can better serve our patients and families. In her role as a performance improvement advisor, Katie collaborates with departments and leaders across HCMC to continuously evaluate and redesign processes and systems. "I am proud to say that I work to improve how we provide care for our patients." Although she has celebrated the successful completion of many improvement projects, the work of continuous improvement is never done. "I love working at HCMC," said Katie. Every day brings a new challenge and a new opportunity to transform our health system...one improvement at a time.
How I Operate
Hue Moua has always had a special touch with computers, but his touch with people is even stronger. For Hue, great customer service is at the heart of information technology. During his 15 years in IT, including the last three years on the IT team at HCMC, he has found that the most important connections he makes aren't with cables, ports, or networks, but with people. "I make every effort to listen to their concerns, respond to issues quickly, and explain what I am doing so they understand," said Hue. With his IT expertise, Hue knows he can make a difference not only in the work of our staff, but also in the lives of our patients. "Even though I don’t work in patient care, I can help make it possible for providers here to deliver high quality patient care."
Meeting your goals.
Susan Priem is a physical therapist specializing in aging adults. Patients work with her to maintain high levels of strength and mobility as they grow older. Her goal as a geriatric physical therapist is to help patients identify and meet their own goals. "Each patient I work with is here for a reason," said Susan. By building strong relationships with her patients, she brings those reasons to the surface and addresses them as part of the therapy process. "It's also really important to take time to hear what patients aren't saying," she said. Being a healthcare professional is about "meeting the patient where they are" and joining them on their journey to greater independence and improved health. "Seeing patients smile and physically improve is so amazing."
DEIDRE & NANCY
Two Ways to Teach
Deidre Campbell and her mother, Nancy Grimes, have very different roles at Hennepin, but they are both educators in ways that are supported and valued here. Deidre works as a nurse in the Hepatitis and Liver Disease Clinic. She educates patients about their disease and its management, leading to better medical outcomes and more satisfied patients empowered by self-care. Nancy, on the other hand, is a patient of the Internal Medicine Clinic, but she sees herself as a teacher too. “One of the things I enjoy most about HCMC is the teaching environment,” says Nancy, a former teacher and high school principal. "It’s just amazing to meet so many medical students and residents. I get to know them, and they get to know me." By taking the time to create a relationship with each other, she hopes to teach them something about how to keep the humanity in the clinical encounter.
Happy staff, happy patients.
"I am proud of the people I work with every day. They are the best doctors, nurses, and healthcare staff," said Alvin Sangma, a clinical care supervisor in the Emergency Department. What makes them so good at what they do? Alvin believes it's the support system around them. "I think that when you have satisfied, inspired, and cared for staff, you will have the same thing for your patients." When he first became a supervisor, he found that his main focus turned to the health and wellbeing of his staff. His goal as a supervisor is to support his team and ensure they have everything they need to do their jobs. "A lot comes at you in an environment like the ED," said Alvin, but it's important for staff to take time to support themselves and each other in order to provide the best possible care.
A Supportive Push
Working as a transporter at HCMC, Bilal Flomer safely gets patients where they need to go for tests, procedures, and appointments. Though he may be taking them from one patient care area to another, Bilal doesn't think of the short time he spends with patients as "in-between." Rather, he says, transport is a continuation of their care, with the same potential for healing. As they pass through the hallways of HCMC together, Bilal and his patients talk openly and honestly, and through conversation comes comfort and relief. "I am here for them," says Bilal, "to listen with understanding and compassion and to give them encouragement."
MUHIYADIN & ELMA
More Than Words
Every day, HCMC welcomes patients from over 30 different countries speaking over 20 different languages—37,084 patients annually. In such a landscape, professional medical interpreters like Elma Johnson and Muhiyadin "Mo" Aden play an essential role in facilitating communication between providers and patients who speak limited English. "We see things from the eyes of the patient," said Elma. "Many of us have had similar experiences and understand their preferences, needs, and values." As Interpreter Service Supervisors, both mentor their staff on increasing awareness of and respect for the patient’s perspective to support improved health outcomes. "I enjoy my work," said Mo, "because I can make a difference for people."
My Dream JobNow HCMC’s CEO, Dr. Jon Pryor got his start in healthcare when he worked as a nursing assistant the summer before college. He found his life’s work in the rewarding connections he was able to create with patients: "I felt very privileged to be able to touch the patients both physically and emotionally. I felt like I made a difference to them, and it felt good to me as well." After graduating from medical school, he went on to work as a surgeon in urology, including two years of training as a resident at HCMC. In his role as HCMC’s CEO, Dr. Pryor sees himself as he always has: as a member of the healthcare team, working side by side with our physicians, nurses, and staff to deliver patient-, family-, and community-centered care to every patient, every day, every time.
Paramedic Angela Hanke and her colleagues in Hennepin EMS work on the front line of patient care. They are the first to respond when an accident or incident occurs in the community, performing life-saving medical services to stabilize patients on their way to the hospital. As first responders, they also have the first opportunity to create a connection with the patient and family and establish them as partners on the care team. For Angela, this relationship starts by listening to their needs, explaining what’s happening and what they can expect, and supporting them in their decisions. And most importantly, "It means showing them I care no matter what the call."
Proactive for Patients
"Hola, me llamo Edna. ¿Cómo le puedo ayudar?" Patient Representative Edna Martinez is skilled in responding to patients’ and families’ concerns and ensuring that their experiences at HCMC are exceptional. But what Edna finds most rewarding about her job are the times when she is not only reacting to concerns, but also being proactive about them. The work she is most proud of is when she has visited with patients and their families to talk about a specific issue or concern, only to identify another need that they may have hesitated to mention—a need that, once met, changes their experience entirely. For Edna, the best encounters are those in which she can help the patient and family feel well cared for.
There's no better place for Janet Ligon than the 7th Street entrance to the Blue Building where she works as a valet parking attendant. That's the entrance where many patients and families come and go for treatment in our Cancer Center. A breast cancer survivor herself, Janet connects with her customers in a way that's just as powerful and meaningful as the connections they make with healthcare providers inside our walls. Nicknamed Miss Smiley, Janet is recognized across HCMC for the impact she makes every day. Parking cars may be her specialty, but she is always ready to help in whatever capacity that's needed. "I am a people person," said Janet. "I like being around people and cheering them up."
"In health care, we all have stories," said Mary K Johnson. Patients and providers alike. Providers' stories are often about the times when a patient or family member has touched their heart in a particular way. By putting the experience into a story, "they can carry it with them for the rest of their life," she said, "and use it as a reminder of why they do this and why it's all worthwhile." Mary K has amassed a lot of stories during the 26 years she has spent at HCMC as a registered nurse. She also knows that when patients’ share their own stories with her, together they find new and important information that can be used to guide their care. And in the process of sharing each of their stories, Mary K and her patients are creating a new story together.
REBECCA & CHRISTOPHER
Rebecca Mattis is more than just a patient services coordinator at our Brooklyn Park Clinic. She is a daughter, a mom, a friend, a volunteer, and so many other things. She sees the same in our patients: they are much more than what you see in the exam room. "What makes HCMC different is the connections we make with patients and families. We really get to know you." Patients and families have rich and varied lives outside of our walls, and that's why we need to look outward into the community to truly impact our patients' health. Rebecca embodies our mission of partnering with our community. She leads Brooklyn Park Clinic's involvement in Hennepin County's "Close the Loop" initiative to screen children for developmental issues before preschool. She also represents HCMC at many neighborhood events with her son, Christopher, by her side.
A Firsthand Account
One of Thomas Stoner's volunteer positions at HCMC is transporting same-day surgery patients to their procedures. Thomas sees his role as much more than just keeping patients safe and comfortable en route. Many surgery patients are nervous about what lies ahead, and so Thomas feels it’s also important to be a calming influence. His own surgical experiences here serve this function well. "I can appreciate their nervousness and uncertainty," Thomas said. He is able to offer patients a firsthand account of what it’s like to be cared for at HCMC. He assures them that what lies ahead is not only safe and excellent clinical care, but a caring team that keeps the patient at the center—every step of the way.
Helping Patients Breathe EasierWhen treating patients, Amanda Bjorklund utilizes her clinical expertise as a certified respiratory therapist, a role that she has held at HCMC since 2000. She has also found that one of her most effective tools is her communication skills: "Just talking to the patient, letting him or her know what to expect, and offering words of comfort and reassurance are some of the most powerful actions you can take,” said Amanda. When patients are concerned or scared about their health, she stays and talks with them until they feel secure. Even in situations where patients aren’t conscious or may not be able to hear her, Amanda makes communication a priority. “I do everything I can to help the patient."
The Power of Listening
When Protection Officer John Concepcion tries to calm a patient or visitor who is upset, you will see him touch him or her in powerful ways—but not with his hands. He reaches them through his ability to listen. John understands that the key to deescalating situations isn't to restrain people. It's to give them the freedom to speak and be heard. "We can work through the whole process by connecting with them and respecting them," said John. Taking the time to actively listen helps staff connect with patients and their families on many levels that can aid in healing.
What Really Counts
"I try to go above and beyond for at least one person a day," said Food Service Worker Ray Cathey, who has proudly worn his chef's hat in the HCMC cafeteria for almost three years. Ray always meets his daily goal—and then some, by helping hundreds of others in more modest ways. You’ll see him getting a cover for a patient's plate or finding the crushed red pepper for someone whose meal needs a little heat. But Ray knows it's not the numbers that count. It's the effort. And for someone with such a naturally positive and helpful attitude, it doesn’t even take much of that.
On Top of Going Under
If Nurse Anesthetist Paige Saunders wrote an advertisement for surgery at HCMC, it would read something like this: "Making your experience so good you’ll wish you weren’t asleep for it!" The tagline captures her approach to the delivery of care, using humor and laughter to connect with patients and help them cope with difficult situations. "My heart is truly in this to care for others," said Paige. She is passionate about her job and devoted to her patients. "Right before patients are asleep I put my hand on their cheek and tell them we are going to take good care of them. We will be with them the entire time they are in surgery, monitoring their pain and anesthesia."
Listening to you.
As a community health worker at Richfield Clinic, Tracey Corliss coordinates many aspects of care for patients with various chronic conditions. She knows she is doing her job when patients open up to her. "You would be amazed by how just sharing your struggles with someone can help start healing and shed light on things that have prevented that healing in the past." Tracey knows from her own experiences that healthcare can be scary and confusing. By building connections with patients, she hopes to create an environment where patients feel knowledgeable and comfortable with their healthcare. Tracey encourages patients to ask questions and reminds them that their healthcare team is always centered around you.
Putting Myself Out There
When meeting a patient for the first time in the Observation and Recovery Unit where she works, Shawna Wellnitz always starts by introducing herself and her role as a health care assistant. In doing so, she is no longer just another staff member, nameless and unfamiliar, going in and out of the room. She becomes a person, with a purpose that she always makes sure to relate to the rest of their care. She says that it is important to "put yourself out there" for patients, just as they must do for you. And for Shawna, introducing herself to patients is the first step toward making their interaction more personal—and more healing.
Care You Can’t Measure
Small differences can be immeasurable. Joan Hagen learned this simple lesson firsthand through her own family's health care experiences, and she has applied it to her position as a Radiology Technologist ever since. So, when Joan takes patients back for procedures, she makes sure their families have a chance to say "I love you" first. The small gesture is an immeasurable boost for patients and families, and a good example of how to partner with them in a simple way and keep them at the center. Joan knows that affirmation and assurance go a long way towards a healing experience and she always makes time for them.
"Grade A" Work
Trading his chalkboard for a lab cart, Stephen McMahan switched careers from high school science teacher to laboratory assistant and ended up at HCMC. "I wanted to get into the inpatient setting where I could have direct patient interaction," said Stephen. "It’s always a challenge and I love it." Stephen visits patients in their hospital room to draw blood and other specimens for analysis. He says that in a lot of their daily routines, "we can sometimes lose sight of the fact that these are real people with real problems just like us." Recognizing that every patient interaction offers an opportunity to make a difference, he strives to build meaningful connections with his patients and families.
Patient & Provider in One
Soon after Marianne Knutson started working at Hennepin County Medical Center, she became a patient here. After nearly fifteen years, she’s still both. The Laboratory Manager credits her longevity as a patient to the relationships she has built with her health care providers, who all have supported and empowered Marianne and her husband to participate in her care. As they work together as partners to treat her condition, Marianne and her providers have shared moments of hope, disappointment, and surprising tenderness. Through her experiences as both a provider and patient, Marianne has learned how important it is for providers to simply listen.
Bringing the Best of Me
"To be kind," says Rene Cabrera. "That’s what we are here for." A Facilities Management Worker, Rene knows his service to Hennepin County Medical Center doesn’t stop with his official job duties—keeping our facilities safe and productive. Rene also strives to create a caring and warm welcome by greeting patients in the hallways with a smile, connecting them to hospital services, and walking with them to appointments when they need help. He believes that these daily connections with patients have made him a better person. "It’s a very good feeling when you help somebody."
Power of a Calm Mind
A calm mind improves communication, creates trust and respect, and enables you to be present and focus on others’ wellbeing – with a calm mind, anything is possible. Every morning, Jampa Ritzekura practices breathing meditation to achieve this ideal state of mind. He finds that it enhances the care he provides to patients and families in Same Day Surgery where he works as a health care assistant. With a customer service philosophy inspired by the Dalai Lama’s teachings, Jampa practices compassion and finds ways to relate to patients through our common humanity. "I take care of patients as if they were one of my family members because we are all the same: human beings."
Talk to me.
Char Elioff started her career as a medical technologist, but switched to social work when she realized she wanted to interact more with patients. Social work is her passion, and patients can tell she is sincere in her desire to help. "It can be so busy in the Emergency Department, but everything goes away when you see a patient smile." What's funny, though, is that this "people person" doesn't actually do that much talking when working with patients in our Emergency Department. She mostly listens. "You have to take the time to just listen to the patient's story to better understand them and see where they are coming from," she said. Char's approach with patients is to let them talk and look for the answers in what they say. "I never tell people what to do."
Showing How Much I Care
Stacey Hayes got her start in the Medical Records Department, but found her home when she took a position as a patient services coordinator in the Addiction Medicine Clinic. For more than 12 years she has helped support and encourage those struggling with the disease of addiction. "Our clinic is like a family," said Stacey. "The patients are part of that family too." Every day she offers a warm welcome and smile when they check in, making sure to listen carefully and remember special details. "It means a lot to remember something a patient says and then ask about it a couple days later. It shows patients you are really listening to them and care about their lives." For Stacey, each patient provides an opportunity to show how much she cares.
Lisa Wicktor's inspiration to become a speech-language pathologist came from her mother. Born with a cleft palate, her mom's life opened up once she started receiving speech therapy. This new beginning showed Lisa what was possible and helped give her the positive attitude that she brings to each encounter with patients. It can be a very frustrating experience for patients as they work through the communication and swallowing challenges caused by stroke, brain injury, and other health issues. But Lisa's approach keeps them focused on their goals. She tries to end each session on a positive note, and throughout their care she gradually brings them to a place of acceptance and readiness for what comes next. "We may not be able to get them back totally to the person they were before, but we want them to see that there is life with a new me."
With her unmistakably upbeat, friendly attitude, it’s fitting that Jenny Kelley calls herself a "cheer-leader" to fellow nurses. Jenny is a clinical care supervisor in Ambulatory Services, mentoring her colleagues to develop their clinical skill and competency. She believes that offering support and gratitude to staff is how to keep them engaged and doing their best work. "I am always telling other nurses and staff, ‘Thank you for the work that you do.’ " Jenny spreads positive energy in all her interactions, not only by helping her colleagues feel supported but also by encouraging patients to look forward and not focus on sad experiences. "You need to figure out what the patient wants and what works for them and then help them achieve that."