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."
My Dream Job
Now 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.
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."
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.”
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.
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."
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.
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."
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.
"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.
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 Easier
When 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.
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.
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."