There is a workgroup at Adventist HealthCare that is developing a statement of intent that will state more explicitly our conviction that “everyone matters.” The statement will further assure that every person is treated with respect and dignity. The vision is for this guiding statement to be an essential part of the training we provide our employees. It will be deployed through the employee selection process, in orientation, in the practices we embrace for excellent patient experiences, and in training and policy development.

We feel that this statement brings specificity to our value of RESPECT in helping us realize and understand our need to value each person for who they are, and it will serve as a preamble to our policies and procedures.

Still in draft form, the current version of the statement reads: At Adventist HealthCare, we extend God’s care by recognizing the infinite worth of each individual.  Every human being, no matter their condition, gender, identity, race, age, nationality, socioeconomic status, faith or sexual orientation, will receive equitable health care and be treated with respect and dignity. We commit to hold ourselves to the highest standards of speech and conduct toward all individuals with whom we interact.

I am proud of the work being done on this statement and thrilled to see how the principle that “everyone matters” continues to shape our policy and practice.

One such initiative is “Commit To Sit,” shared with me by David McAllister, Nurse Manager in the Medicine and Stroke unit at Shady Grove Medical Center. In an effort to go the extra mile in helping patients feel included, listened to, and authentically cared for, David and his team came up with what they call “Commit to Sit.” This involves the simple communication approach of pulling up a chair, sitting beside the patient bed, and talking to the patient instead of standing over them. A simple but powerful innovation—and much appreciated. It reinforces the eye-to-eye and heart-to-heart approach and sends a message that each person matters. It also communicates to our care team the significance we attribute to thoughtful and attentive patient care.

Over at Rehabilitation, the team saw the need to help rehabilitation patients bathe or shower as soon as they are admitted and throughout their stay. They developed what they initially called the “spa team,” which is available seven days a week to assist patients in this activity—it is now called “The Mobility Team.” Bathing is a basic (and private) ritual that is often taken for granted until we are unable to do so. Each person has their unique approach to bathing, and the Mobility Team makes sure that the experience meets not only the patient’s physical needs but also their emotional and privacy needs. The team even offers essential oils, scented lotions, and soft music to help soothe and enhance the patient experience.

Across Adventist HealthCare we are exploring ways to provide patient-centered care to the LGBTQ population. Although social acceptance of the LGBTQ community in the United States has been improving, many people continue to face stigma and discrimination. These negative experiences, combined with a lack of access to culturally-affirming and informed health care, result in multiple health disparities for LGBTQ populations. A number of discussions, programs, and training initiatives are in place at AHC to help our employees understand the unique and sensitive needs of the LGBTQ community and to provide a safe environment for this community to receive the highest quality of care.

Marilyn Lynk and her team at The Center of Health Equity and Wellness are deeply skilled in recognizing and responding to patient needs with culturally responsive care. A recent experience involving a deaf patient resulted in a negative experience for the patient and their family.  The Center immediately responded by conducting workshops/training sessions to support staff in enhancing their ability to communicate effectively with deaf patients, put them at ease, clarify options, and manage expectations. Though we do not care for a large number of patients from the deaf community, it does not lessen the efforts we take to make sure our deaf patients receive excellent care.

These are just a few examples of the ways in which we are being more explicit in not only how we “talk the talk” but also how we are seeking to “walk the walk.” Our patients and their families deserve this kind of care—and we are a better organization as a result.

Next week: A devastating experience that shaped and reshaped our organization.