It was an Aha Moment. No, not the kind where you figure out why hot dogs come in packages of 10 and the buns come in packages of 12 or why NBC fired Conan O’Brien, but more of a “wow, yeah, that’s right” revelation.
I was sitting at my PC trying to finish a communication plan, pound out a memo and complete a performance evaluation. Pretty important, priority stuff, in my world. But, truth be known, no lives would be lost if I didn’t get those things done that day.
When my phone rang, I was concentrating pretty hard on just the right words to describe some budget changes. It was the switchboard, forwarding a very upset patient to me. The caller started the conversation with, “I have a complaint and won’t hang up until you tell me what you’re going to do about it.” We have a Customer Feedback Center and that’s not me, but the anger in her voice told me I had better listen and not even attempt to transfer her somewhere else, so I hung on.
During the course of the conversation – more of a monologue, really – I tried a few times to interject that I wasn’t the appropriate person to help her, but that I could transfer her to someone who could. But I couldn’t get a word in. She was angry, her husband was angry and he was screaming in the background the whole time she spoke to me.
A very long ten minutes later, I finally ended the call. It was 4:55 p.m. and my to-do list wasn’t getting any shorter. I groaned and grumbled that, for crying out loud, I have to drop everything now to take care of this.
The Aha hit me just as the Grrrrrrrr escaped my lips. I was face to face with our core value: The Needs of the Patient Come First. Let’s see, angry patient versus important memo. Am I here because I am a communicator or I am here because we have patients? Without patients – and satisfied patients, at that - there is no need for me or my position or my department. This patient isn’t an interruption, this patient is the reason I am here. Makes me think of this old poem:
Cleaning and scrubbing can wait ’til tomorrow
For babies grow up, much to our sorrow.
So, quiet down cobwebs, dust go to sleep.
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep
Like the cleaning and scrubbing, the memos and the evaluations and whatever else can wait. Patients are the first thing and they shouldn’t “keep.”
Epilogue: I listened, empathized, took all of her information, forwarded it to our Customer Feedback Department for resolution and assured her that someone would get back to her by the next day. Not sure what the resolution was and it doesn’t really matter, I know she’s in good hands. I may never be privy to the hot dog packing logic and don’t really care why Conan got the ax – heck, he has a new show and millions more in the bank because of it. I just know that, after 22 years here, this Aha Moment hit me like a ton of bricks and that is a good thing.