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The Power of Storytelling

04/12/2021– Storytelling


I. Report of Goals

Before getting into this week’s topic, take a moment and report on your department goal(s).


II. Success Stories

Take a moment to share one or two brief success stories of Meaningful Encounters with patients or guests.

III. Storytelling

Storytelling can be used to teach in ways that straight facts or bullet points cannot. Storytelling is a powerful way to convey ideas and values. Throughout time, people have used stories to teach and inspire one another. Stories have a way of “sticking with us” that far surpass the fleeting memory of a mere list of facts.


I was reminded of this important principle last week when a young father and his 4-year old son came to the administrative offices to share their story. His words have inspired me, and I think they will inspire you, too.


It was the end of the day. I was just about to shut my computer down and head out when I heard someone enter the door to the administrative office at Bingham Memorial Hospital. I was the only left for the day and so I stepped out of my office to ask how I could help. There was a young father and little boy in a stroller, who I learned was 4 and who was recovering from a recent surgery.


“Hi, I just wanted to stop in and tell someone, ‘Thank you!’ for the recent care that my son received here at your hospital,” he said.


“Wow, thank you for taking time to come do that,” I said, as I introduced myself.


“Well, to be honest, I felt compelled to because just a few years ago, I was in this exact same spot telling your hospital how bad a job you did,” he explained.


“What do you mean,” I asked, ushering him to have a seat in my office.


He went on to tell me that only a few years ago, he and his wife felt they would never come back to Bingham because of a poor experience that his wife had while in our emergency department. He explained the feeling of resentment and anger they felt toward our facility. But all of that had changed now.


The previous week, their son had an emergency appendectomy and the care he received was, according to this young father, “above and beyond expectations.”


“Everyone was just great! Dallin and Kristy. Kabrina, Chelsea, and Yarah. Sierra and Dr. Schneider,” he said, naming each person directly involved in his son’s care. “I want to ensure that Sierra [Hicks] knows how much the pop tarts meant,” he said.


Sensing my confusion, he explained that his son wasn’t eating the breakfast that nutritional services had prepared. “And it was a great breakfast,” he said. “But Sierra heard my son say he really wanted pop tarts.”


“A short time later, in came Sierra with pop tarts,” he said. “We didn’t know it at the time, but we learned that she looked for pop tarts all over the hospital and when she couldn’t find any, she went to the store and bought some, all on her own. That really made my son’s day, and it changed things for us. Here was someone who really cares.”


“Wow! Thanks for sharing your story,” I said. “It is more typical to only hear about the times when we dropped the ball, but I really appreciate it when we get to hear about the good experiences that our patients have, too.”


“You’ve won us back,” he said. “And we cannot be more impressed with the team you have here at Bingham. Please tell them all ‘Thank you!’”


Including this story in the HQHC huddle is my fulfillment to this father to share his gratitude to each of you. Too often, we only hear about the negative. We accept the feedback from others when we fail, and we seek to use that feedback to improve our services to prevent it from happening again. That’s what last week’s topic on performance improvement was all about. But, what about the good experiences? Aren’t those also helpful in improving behavior?


In my opinion, they are more helpful. Stories about the times when we “get it right” help to reinforce correct behavior. Stories about the good also motivate us, knowing that we’re not failing but, rather, succeeding at reaching our mission for healthcare.


IV. ACT

We recognize that we’re not perfect, but we can also recognize the good. Help us see the good by sharing your stories. Share your stories while nominating your coworkers for the Servant’s Heart Award. If you’re not familiar with this award, visit this website to learn more: https://www.binghammemorial.org/servants-heart-award-nomination-form