Caregiving is the focus of Providence storytelling campaign

August 15, 2013


Providence Health & Services of Renton, Wash., has launched a campaign encouraging the system's nearly 65,000 employees and clinicians to share stories of how they provide compassionate care to patients and each other.

The "Our Promise Stories" campaign, which launched July 24, challenges all staff — whether or not they have direct contact with patients — to view themselves as caregivers and to submit stories about how they live out Providence's promise to know patients, care for them and ease their way. The system will capture and share stories systemwide to inspire Providence colleagues to be more intentional in how they deliver care. Providence is asking employees for anecdotes about how they get to know a patient and meet his or her needs, or instances where they or a coworker went above and beyond to ease a problem for a patient.

"In sharing these stories, we hope to create a 'snowball effect,'" explained Orest Holubec, Providence senior vice president of marketing and communications. "We want to create real culture change" so that all employees will focus on building positive relationships with patients.

Providence debuted the campaign across its five-state network with a town hall-style webinar for managers. System President and Chief Executive Dr. Rod Hochman, who had the idea to use storytelling as part of this campaign, told the audience that every employee is part of the care delivery team and that serving at Providence is not just a job, but a call to take part in Providence's mission.

To get started as storytellers, employees will send an email to the system communications office or tell their managers about how they or their coworkers deliver compassionate care. The managers will send the story tips to Holubec's team. His department will package the stories as narratives, as reflections or as video interviews. Holubec said the communications staff is determining the best way to circulate the stories, but it likely will publish the print and video vignettes on social media sites and offer them for use at meetings of managers.

Holubec said that the Promise Stories campaign sprang from efforts in 2011 to unify the Providence network behind a single vision, which is: "Together, we answer the call of every person we serve: Know me, care for me, ease my way."

As leaders considered this vision, they discussed the importance of every staff member feeling that he or she is working toward the goals of knowing and caring for patients and easing their way. The executives also considered how some aspects of the health care delivery system could undermine relationships between employees and patients. For instance, the increased use of technology could detract from the caregiver-patient bond.

Leaders want to challenge staff to surmount such obstacles by considering how they're delivering care from the perspective of the patient and to frame their work in terms of relationships.

Providence plans to create an external campaign to share Promise Stories with community members, likely by early 2014.

A Promise Story video screened during the launch webinar featured Dave Allen, a Providence customer service representative, who handles billing inquiries. He recounted a call with a patient who was concerned she'd be unable to afford to pay the bill for her child's surgery. Allen determined that the caller's family qualified for charity care. The woman was grateful and much relieved.

"The most exciting call is someone … calling to check on the status of their (charity care) application, and they don't know yet that they've actually been approved … I get to tell them … 'your bill has been written off,'" Allen said.

"Sometimes they can't even quite comprehend what you're saying because the bill might be hundreds of thousands of dollars. It's very emotional and very exciting, and it's a great part of what we get to do here. We're helping that person through a rough patch in their life by directing them to charity care," he said.


Copyright © 2013 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States
For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3477.

Copyright © 2013 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States

For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3490.