Connect Live

Connect Live @ Adventist Health | September 2, 2021
Story 37

Joyce Newmyer welcomes Alex Bryan, Chief Mission Officer of Adventist Health, and Gabrielle Nichols-Roy, System Film Producer & Director for Adventist Health, to share about the essential call of story within us and our communities.

Joyce Newmyer: Welcome to Connect Live at Adventist Health. I'm Joyce Newmyer, the chief culture officer at Adventist Health and your host for Connect Live. This week, we're talking about the power of story. I'll share a powerful story from way outside the box at Adventist Health Sonora. Then I'll be joined by Gabrielle Nichols-Roy and Alex Bryan to talk more about story. And last, I'll tell you about what's happening with tattoos and new starts at Adventist Health Bakersfield.

Now for a story way outside the box. With the increasing demand that COVID places on our teams, leaders at Adventist Health hospitals have taken on some new responsibilities. Michelle Fuentes, President of Adventist Health Sonora now refers to her executive team as Clark Kents. They've been trained to prone patients in the intensive care unit. Executives arrive to their offices in the morning in business suits and when needed, they then do quick turnarounds Clark Kent style and don full personal protective equipment to serve.

Proning or prone positioning is placing patients to lie on their stomachs, patients in acute respiratory distress, especially relevant right now, many COVID patients can breathe better by lying prone. It takes several people to safely move a patient to a prone position and the executive team being trained and supervised by clinical staff to help with this frees up other caregivers to be with their patients. That's what I call solving problems way outside of the box.

And now I'm excited to welcome our guests today. Chief Mission Officer Alex Bryan, and our system film producer and director Gabrielle Nichols-Roy. Welcome, and thank you for joining me today to talk about the power of story. Gabrielle, you have a unique job and a unique perspective on how and why we tell stories and then how that becomes action. Tell us about this passion of yours.

Gabrielle Nichols-Roy: Absolutely happy to, and thanks so much for having me today, Joyce. As a health system, we have no shortage of stories. Inspiring stories, moving stories, triumphant stories, at times, heartbreaking stories. And I think we have a responsibility to share those stories. Daniel Kahneman, he's a Nobel Laureate, was once quoted saying, "No one ever made a decision just on a number. They need a story." And I love that because we all know stories have the ability to connect us emotionally. But they also have the ability to inspire action. When we hear a story that really resonates with us, it not only touches our hearts, but can expand our minds and lead us to new understanding. It can affect the decisions that we make and the actions that we take right now and for the rest of our lives. But here's the kicker. People have to hear the story in order to be inspired to take action. And that's why it's really important that we have teams here at Adventist Health who are going to help share our stories because that's what's going to give us a seat at the table for shaping the future.

That could be just shaping the future of our own internal culture, but it could also be shaping the future for the communities that we serve or relandscaping the entire American healthcare system. No matter what we take on, I promise that stories are going to help us get there. And I might be a little biased because I lead our film team, but I truly believe as a delivery method, that film gives life to our stories. And especially in a time of a pandemic, when we're not able to travel, we're not able to be together physically, video is so accessible. You can just sit in front of your computer and hit a play button, but that film will take you to places you may never travel to. It will introduce you to people you may never meet. It will give you maybe a taste of an experience you may never have otherwise. And so that broadening of our horizons, those glimpses into new and different perspectives, I mean, I don't know if you can tell, but I'm here for it.

Joyce Newmyer: Well, Gabrielle, I think I speak for many of us who are so impressed with the work that you and your team are doing to tell stories that live and breathe and walk around that we can repeat because we can find them in places where story is told over and over and over here at Adventist Health. I'm so impressed with the work that you and your team are doing. Alex, you and your colleagues are amazing storytellers. I've heard you say that storytelling is at the core of everything that we do. So why is story so important to all of us at Adventist Health?

Alex Bryan: Yeah. Thanks Joyce. And boy, what an honor to be on with Gabrielle. You understated just how brilliant she is and how lucky we are to have such a gifted storyteller in our organization. So Gabrielle, keep on telling stories. Joyce, I think it's three things. Just quickly. One is Max De Pree, the great leadership author says the number one job of a leader, number one job is to define reality. That's storytelling. A story helps shape what is real. It tells us what's actually going on. It might be a sobering story, a bracing story. It might be something more positive and energetic, heartwarming, but that's number one. I think we have to tell stories because they define reality for folks.

Secondly, I think in healthcare, my goodness, our brilliant physicians and nurses and other frontline providers, listening to stories, understanding the stories of our patients that is absolutely pure gold. It's possible that the blood work might tell a story or the imaging might tell a story, but it may not be the whole story. The difference maker for us at Adventist Health and my judgment for how we care for patients is we try to understand the whole story, not just the scientific pieces, but the whole story of what a person's actually saying about how they're thinking and feeling what they value in life.

And then finally, and Gabrielle touched on this already. And I just want to underscore, storytelling opens up so many worlds to us. You think about all the books that you see behind me. I love books because it opens your mind to places that you never thought possible. Why do we love a great movie? It opens our minds and even Jesus. He told parables, he invited us into, stick with me, he invited us into a parable universe. Kind of like a parallel universe, a parable universe story, opening up a whole way of thinking that wouldn't have been possible any other way.

Joyce Newmyer: Alex, our mission statement really is a story, living God's love by inspiring health, wholeness and hope. The wholeness indicates that we are all a walking, living, breathing story. And so if you're going to address the wholeness of a person, you have to take in mind that every single person has a story. So now a question for both of you. Gabrielle you first. How can we all become better storytellers in our roles at Adventist Health?

Gabrielle Nichols-Roy: That's a good question. I mean, I think we're all storytellers in one way, shape or form and with great power comes great responsibility. And so I think the most important thing is to make sure if we tell stories that they're true. And Mark and Philip, our editor and cinematographer, they're just geniuses, so skilled at what they do, creating these beautiful films. But most importantly, they always make sure the story is true and true to the people who lived that story. And so I think that's the key takeaway is just make sure if you're going to tell stories, make sure the story's true.

Joyce Newmyer: Thanks Gabrielle. Alex, how can we be better storytellers?

Alex Bryan:  Yeah. That's fantastic. Yeah, I think that's great. Well, first of all, believe that you're a good storyteller. I've never known anybody Joyce, sitting around, drinking a cup of coffee or eating a meal, everybody's a great storyteller when you're just hanging out. All of a sudden we freeze up when it's like, I've got to tell a story in a meeting, or I have to tell a story up front. Be yourself. I think we're actually all pretty good storytellers. And then the second thing I would just say is listen to people that you really think are very good storytellers and that can be comedians, filmmakers, people that we know in the place that we work. I think just really listened carefully to people who do it well, and then have confidence in your ability, because I think you have the ability to tell great stories.

Joyce Newmyer: It's interesting to me that when Jesus was here on Earth, in his ministry, he didn't do as much preaching as he did storytelling. And that tells us that storytelling and preaching are kind of the same thing. And here we are 2,000 years later still telling the same stories that he told because it moves hearts and minds. And that's how you get people, like you said, Gabrielle, to move toward action. So thank you to both of you for joining me today and for helping us explore the power of story. And now for one more story about tattoos and new starts.

Adventist Health Bakersfield is partnering with Garden Pathways, a community-based, nonprofit that removes tattoos free of charge in cases where they are a barrier to employment, education or economic mobility. In some cases, it even becomes a matter of personal safety. The program is staffed by medical caregivers who volunteer their time and are licensed to operate lasers, including [Sean Pedis], RN, who also works at Adventist Health Bakersfield as they work with each client, volunteers are able to ask them about their goals, mentorship, and other needed resources for success. It's an opportunity to perhaps help people change their stories and provide opportunities that may have otherwise been unavailable to them. You can read the full story online at Friends, thank you for connecting live today. And we'll see you next week when our guests will be John Beaman and Ben Hilmes. Until then, let's be a force for good.