In last week’s Friday Flash Report, we explored the idea of the new Jennie Sealy Hospital as a symbol of UTMB Health’s transformation over the years. We also acknowledged the hospital’s opening as an opportunity to affirm and nurture UTMB’s renewal through demonstrating a welcoming, caring culture each day. Whatever our role, we are all representatives of UTMB Health, and we all work together to make the experience of UTMB an exceptional one for our patients and their loved ones.
You should all feel very proud of the important contributions you each make at UTMB. Whether you work from behind the scenes to keep our facilities operational or deliver meals to our patients, whether you work in a lab or prepare medications, whether you help keep UTMB beautiful by providing a clean environment or deliver patient care in a clinic or inpatient unit, whether you greet patients at a front desk or help them find the resources they need to say healthy, you all contribute to making UTMB Health the healthcare system that it is. And while our new hospital represents the hard work of hundreds of people who put in thousands of hours of work to make it a reality, buildings are not what make UTMB Health. It is you – our people.
As I speak with employees in different areas across the organization, I see the pride you all have in your work, and I know you put your best foot forward each day. When I walk the halls of our many different locations, there is one behavior in particular I see that I would like for everyone at UTMB Health to practice, and it is something that speaks volumes about our caring health care environment: SMILE!
There is a philosophy in the hospitality industry known as the “15-5 Rule”. For example, at Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, the rule states that when you see someone at a distance of 15 feet and private conversations cease, give visual recognition, such as a smile. At five feet, acknowledge the person, and if needed, listen and offer assistance. It takes less than two seconds to make a first impression!
I know for some individuals who feel a little shy at times, this may seem like an uncomfortable practice at first. For others, we may find ourselves thinking deeply about something that happened that particular day, and we forget to smile at and acknowledge the people who we pass. At other times, we may say hello to someone, and they don’t reply in return (which may be part of their personal cultural practice). But more often than not, I find that when I greet someone with a smile, they smile back, and the more I make it a conscious effort to practice this, the more positive my environment feels.
I sometimes wonder, what keeps us from interacting with others in this simple way? Whether our passing interaction is with a patient or visitor to the hospital, or even a fellow employee, I think it is helpful to remember we are all human beings. What if we thought of them as going through the same things as we are, whether we are celebrating something special or we are in the midst of a difficult time in our lives? What might change if we thought of everyone we pass as being just like us?
You may be familiar with the saying, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” There is great truth to this adage. We realize that patients and their loved ones are often going through very challenging and stressful times when hospitalized. However, a hospital experience isn’t always this way. It can also be an experience of healing or the celebration of a new beginning. So by the same token, it can be a wonderful gift to let others know how you’re celebrating with them!
If we try to think of each person we pass as being a little more like us, and if we live our UTMB values by treating them not only with compassion and respect, but with a smile and eye contact as well, we will probably notice some pretty nice changes! This is a wonderful way we can support a welcoming and caring atmosphere each and every day!