Humans of Partnership
Lots of team members come to me for information on interpreting the contract as well as on how to improve workflow. Management comes to me if they are going to have a difficult conversation and want my suggestions on how to approach it.
I take pride in being a labor sponsor for UBTs in South Baltimore and White Marsh. At White Marsh, the team went from a level 2 to a level 4 in about seven months. Our project increased the number of copayments collected by creating a script and offering patients the option of partial payments. This lowered outstanding balances and increased the number of co-payments collected by 35 percent in the last three months. Because that was successful, we’re incorporating those methods into South Baltimore.”
I work at the Glendale Medical Offices as a service representative. There are six of us. We check patients in for their appointments, answer their questions, and help them find their way around our building. In the past, we didn’t ask patients about their flu shots. They would ask us for information about flu shots but we never asked them about it. Last year, we decided to encourage patients to get their flu shots. We started asking every patient who came in, “Have you got your flu shot?” The ones who said ‘no,’ we directed to our walk-in flu shot clinic. If they had an appointment, we told them to ask their nurse for the flu shot. We were trying any way we could to make sure they got it done. Our teamwork paid off. Because of our efforts, 699 patients got their flu shot. I was surprised because I didn’t think we would be able to get that many patients. It was a challenge but I’m glad I did it. It helped me see that I could be a good role model and help influence others to change their behavior for the better.”
A few months ago, an employee came to me distraught about her elderly, ill mother who was refusing a lot of the treatment her provider suggested. She was crying and worrying about how she would handle it if her mother continued to deteriorate. I said, ‘Where is your mother today? What is the plan?’ I brought her back to today. It doesn’t help to worry about down the road. It only builds anxiety. Take it one day at a time. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. When something feels insurmountable, focus on what can be done today to get a step closer to your goal. This means we can’t worry about next year, the state of the country or how changes will impact KP. This does not mean ignore what’s coming, nor does it exclude you from planning. Instead, it helps you focus on what is important right now.”
I had a situation with an elderly member whose family was arguing about her care. She was scared and crying and couldn’t speak because of the strong emotions being expressed. I took a minute to focus on her and helped her calm down. Then, I asked the family to give me a moment so I could review the patient privacy laws. I came back to speak with the calmest family member and gave them an explanation, along with documents they needed to determine who would be responsible for her care. It ended well, but it was very difficult. When something stressful arises, take a minute to breathe and put yourself in the other person’s position. If a person is truly irate, turn to your co-workers or a supervisor to back you up. Two heads are always better than one. Don’t flat out say ‘no.’ Say, ‘Let me check into this for you.’ This lets them know you are working with them and not against them. The words you use can defuse a situation. They will remember that you tried.”
Nobody really likes to go to the dentist, so it’s important for me when I see my patients that they are happy to see me. We worked on a project called Comfort Menu, where we offer patients personal headphones, pillows and blankets to help them feel more comfortable when they come in for a dental appointment. Even though this was a region-wide project, our team was able to personalize what we offered our patients at our clinic. If we don’t speak up, we’ll quit getting asked for our opinion.”
My first day at Kaiser Permanente was my 22nd birthday. One of the Emergency Department doctors I worked with told me, ‘As long as you do right by the patient, you can’t do wrong by the company.’ Over the years, I’ve had a lot of opportunity to reflect on what ‘doing right’ means to me. I think it all comes down to choices. When I was 16, my parents died, and I watched how differently my older brothers and I handled their deaths. I’ve come to realize, even if we weren’t doing it consciously, we were making choices with our grief. So now I try to make my choices conscious ones. Working in the Emergency Department, I frequently see people on the worst days of their lives. They’re dealing with pain, fear and grief. I can relate to that, so the first choice I make every day is my attitude. I choose to have a positive outlook. I choose to take that extra step. To be patient and empathize with people. That’s how I put my heart into my work, with my choices.”