April 30, 2015

“What other people say about you is none of your business.”

I’ve heard that a time or two, and I suppose that’s a pretty good notion to live by most times. But if you provide a service of any kind, what people are saying matters.

My wife, Shannon, loves going on consumer websites to review restaurants and retailers. And because many people tend to vent on these sites, Shannon prefers to share reviews about positive experiences. Her interest in these websites prompted me to do some digging of my own recently. I wanted to see if I’d find messages about Texas Children’s.

Well, I did. And for the most part, they were exactly as I’d expected – stories of children’s health restored, great bedside care and employees going above and beyond to comfort families. But there were some comments that gave me pause too. I read things like:

“My concerns were not heard.”

“The wait time was extensive.”

“They weren’t very nice.”

These are comments from our patients and their families. And what they’re saying is absolutely our business.

Our patient families come to Texas Children’s because they know our reputation. They know we have beautiful buildings, advanced technology, and that our physicians, nurses and staff excel in their fields. They know that Texas Children’s is among the very best children’s hospitals in the country.

I’m proud that we are all those things. But if our care is absent of compassion, we are not fulfilling our promise to these families. It’s an honor that they choose to come to us for care. That’s why the way we care for them is so important.

Think about it: How do we speak to them? Do we really look at them or acknowledge them by name? If they’re lost, do we stop and redirect them — or better yet, walk with them to help them find their way? Do we consider what it’s like to be in their shoes? Are we kind? And most importantly, are we consistent?

I know many of you are doing your part. I hear stories of how you are leading and taking ownership of our patients’ and families’ experiences.

Like Rosa Medrano in Environmental Services who recently found a lost family in the Clinical Care Center after the clinic had closed. The family had missed their appointment while trying to find their way. But instead of just pointing them in another direction, Rosa located another radiologist, Dr. Scott Dorfman, who was able to perform the diagnostic scan their child needed. Rosa’s attentiveness helped reroute the family to get the care they’d come here to receive.

Or like Dr. Ellis Arjmand who had a 3-year-old patient preparing for his first surgery. The patient and the parents were very nervous, and the mother was sitting on the floor, comforting the child. Dr. Arjmand sat right there beside them, on the floor, as he spoke to them to ensure the family knew they had his full attention.

It’s often small, simple moments like these that make the difference for our patients and families. I know many of you show this kind of compassion and thoughtfulness much of the time. But we must remember, that for each patient and family, each visit to Texas Children’s is their window into our world. What we show them during that time with us is how they will remember us and their experience here.

So what are you showing them? I want to hear from you about what you and your teams and units are doing to make the Texas Children’s experience exceptional, every day, every time.

April 23, 2015

Texas Children’s family, I’m really excited to share something new with you: On the Mark, a new blog I’ve launched to share stories, ideas and insights with you.

Some of what you read here will focus on Texas Children’s and our priorities. Other blog posts will give you an inside look into how we determine the future of Texas Children’s and what we need to do in order to best serve our mission. And still others will allow me to share my personal stories about the things that influence and impact me and my leadership, here and at home.

Believe it or not, it was the correspondence with you over the past few months that motivated me to start this blog. I have always enjoyed the open dialogue I share with so many of you across the organization. But the strength of the relationships we’ve built really struck me while I was away. It was the countless emails, cards and letters I received from you that encouraged and supported me. I have no doubt that it was all of your faithful, unrelenting prayers that helped me recover so quickly and completely.

Beyond your support of me personally, however, was the tremendous inspiration you gave me as you shared story after story of what brought you to Texas Children’s and what drives you to do your work here every day. Here’s part of one kind note I received from Lindsey Gurganious in January:

“I want to share something with you that I am so terribly proud of. My mother, Sandy, has worked for Texas Children’s Hospital for more than 35 years. I am so proud of her, and I cannot stop telling people this. She mostly works nights, and when I was growing up, she worked every shift she could to give my brother and me the experiences of a lifetime and everything we ever needed.

My bed time stories were her telling me about her shift and the people she helped, whether they were patients or her colleagues. Because of her stories, I knew that I would work at Texas Children’s Hospital one day. I did not know what I would be doing for certain, but I have never doubted that this is where I would plant my roots and grow.

I used to wear my mother’s TCH t-shirts to school, steal every TCH pen she had, and, in first grade when we were asked to write what we wanted to be when we grew up, I wrote that I wanted to work at Texas Children’s Hospital. I believe I even drew a very poor TCH logo! I am not alone in this. My brother is also working here as well! The Gurganious family is taking over!”

Lindsey, pictured above with her mom and brother, is an administrative assistant in Critical Care. Her mother Sandy is a nursing administrative coordinator. And her brother Anthony is a Security Services sergeant. They have made serving Texas Children’s mission a family affair. Amazing!

Lindsey’s letter made my day. And pretty much every morning began like that for weeks. Your wonderful stories of dedication and courage lifted my spirits. I simply could not wait to get back to doing what I love, working with all of you to make Texas Children’s the best hospital in the world.

So consider this blog my way of sharing with you my personal thoughts and ideas. But let’s make it our space, because I want to continue to hear from you too. I want to share your Texas Children’s stories. What brought you here? What drives you? Tell me how you care for our patients. Maybe you will share something here that someone else in a completely different area will read, and it will impact a patient’s or family’s experience for the better. And I want to know the stories about the colleagues who inspire you. I want On the Mark to be a source of hope and inspiration for all of us.

Until next time,