Journal Gen X: I’ll Take You There
I escorted a visitor from a bank of interior elevators to the front entrance of my hospital the other day. Besides the fact that I've never been a fan of simply pointing directions to a guest anywhere, I was trained during my very first healthcare job to always walk, never point. So, it's second nature when I notice someone is lost to say, "I'll take you there.” I believe that for those of us not directly involved in patient care, who don’t have to run codes, there is no meeting or activity more important than this. I will always excuse someone from being late to a meeting if they were helping a patient find their way, and I’ve been late to a few for this same reason.
One of the many benefits of this way-finding method is that it allows two people to make a human connection – even if all we talk about is the weather. So, on this day, as both visitor and I were walking and chatting, I asked her how her day was going. I always ask this question. It's my way of both letting them tell me their story if they want or need to unload, and it also allows me to catch any service recovery moments (or team members who need to be thanked). Her answer to this question started with the facts: she was visiting her mother, who was a patient of ours, and was going out to her car to retrieve something. She continued as we walked.
Both of her parents have been patients at our hospital. She herself had been a patient here. Everyone had a wonderful experience. She talked about how friendly everyone is. I get this a lot, and I love hearing it. We learned each other's names and where we were both from. We made a connection with one another. The walk allowed me to learn so much about this person, and I felt richer for the experience.
We receive constant reminders via social media memes and videos that we are all fellow travelers on this journey called life. Nowhere is that clearer than in healthcare delivery, where we can both enter the world, and depart from it. In these fast-moving times, when the contest for our attention seems to have many competitors, it's important to have reminders of the true purpose of all healthcare workers. The four minutes I took to walk to her destination that day was four minutes I won't forget, and it's always time well spent.
This post is an updated version of one I wrote a couple of years ago. The fact that it’s still relevant is a testament to a foundational truth in healthcare: we are humans taking care of other humans. Our profession, whether we are directly involved in patient care, or support those who are, allows us ample daily opportunities to connect with our fellow travelers. Let’s help each other get there, together.