Connect Live @ Adventist Health

Connect Live | February 17, 2022
Story 88

In this episode, join host Joyce Newmyer for a conversation with Dr. Jeffrey Egler, Medical Director and provider for Inspire Health Clinic at Adventist Health Roseville, about difficult shared experiences and frustrations in healthcare and the power of listening.

Cynthia Castillo: What gives me strength is all the obstacles I've overcome. And being able to achieve them makes me hopeful, and that gives me the most strength.

Jasmine Sanchez: My strength working at Adventist Health is knowing that I get to guide people on their daily needs and guide them to the path that they were looking for.

Reza Shafiei: Actually, I like the people. I love to help people, and I think God gave me that opportunity to help people. And that's why I chose this job.

Avelina Palomino: Thank you for first time is God, because God made me very strong. I am happy for working here.

Patricia Luna: My family gives me strength. The fact that I can provide a unique service to my patients, and perspective gives me strength. Feeling like I belong to something gives me a lot of strength. I've been with the hospital for over 10 years. And I could say that this is like my second home, and I feel a lot of strength, a lot of positivity, a lot of positive feelings in this place.

Narrator: How do we talk to and with each other? How do we maybe do less telling? Because communication isn't just about sharing information. It's a two-way street. How do we ask more questions?

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. Live this week, top 5%, listening, and Giving Grace.

Joyce Newmyer: The top 5%. Congratulations to Adventist Health Bakersfield and Adventist Health Glendale, who were both ranked among the best 250 hospitals in the United States. They are in fact, in the top 5% nationwide for overall leadership in clinical excellence as announced by Healthgrades on February 8. Healthgrades is committed to delivering the most scientifically accurate and comprehensive information about doctors and hospitals, with data insights not available anywhere else.

To assess overall hospital performance, Healthgrades reviewed outcomes across more than 31 of the most common procedures and conditions. Recipients of this award have consistently delivered better than expected outcomes for their patients. Well done to the teams at Adventist Health Bakersfield and Adventist Health Glendale for providing superior service and committing to keep your community safe.

Today, I'm delighted to welcome Dr. Jeffrey Egler. He's the Medical Director and provider for the Inspire Health Clinic at Adventist Health Roseville. And Jeff, welcome back to Connect Live.

Dr. Jeffrey Egler: Thanks, Joyce. It's so good to be back with you. I've really enjoyed our conversations the past few couple of days, and they've just been so grounding for me and so important. I'm excited to share some of that with our audience.

Joyce Newmyer: Yes. As you said, we've had conversations in recent days about just how frustrated healthcare workers are, both the direct caregivers and the associates in supporting roles who are essential to our care. So what do you see as the disconnect for these colleagues of ours?

Dr. Jeffrey Egler: Well, so many disconnects. And I think we should start by just saying, these are very frustrating and challenging times. I think that no matter who you are, you're probably frustrated on some level. And I think that you made the good point recently that there does seem to be an incredible disconnect on so many levels.

And what we're speaking about in general is our experience, or, I'm sorry, more specifically, is our experience here within our system, of listening to what our associates are saying and hearing the feedback from them, and realizing that things aren't necessarily meeting. And I think what that means to me is you've brought up the point that it seems that there are some expectations that aren't being met. And people have been, your words, not mine, people feel angry. There's a lot of anger out there. And usually, when there's anger, that means that on some level a disconnect in a relationship somewhere.

Joyce Newmyer: Yeah. I recently had the opportunity to spend time in the three Mendocino hospitals that are part of Adventist Health and such amazing, wonderful, and resilient and caring people. And yeah, some of the folks admitted to me they're just, they're exhausted and they're frustrated and they're tired of feeling angry at this whole situation. And it doesn't mean they're not wonderful people, it just means this is really trying.

Dr. Jeffrey Egler: Yeah.

Joyce Newmyer: You shared with me an amazing statistic. I've thought about it several times, and it just takes me aback every time. It takes 11 seconds for a physician to interrupt a patient and stop their story. Eleven seconds.

Dr. Jeffrey Egler: Yeah. That's what the research says.

Joyce Newmyer: What does that tell us about how well we listen to each other?

Dr. Jeffrey Egler: Not too good. And in fact, if I can just go back a moment, because I don't think I answered your initial question to the extent that it deserves, which is what are some of the disconnects. What you've shared with me and what you've heard from the front lines, it seems like people, our associates, our nurses, our doctors, sometimes they're not having basic needs met. Sort of things that they don't, as you pointed out ... Sometimes some of the first things to close down in the pandemic were the food services. So people found themselves in circumstances where they might not have had access to food, water, rest, relief.

You and I have talked about the fact that people didn't expect the pandemic to last this long. That was a tremendous disconnect. We always talked about, "We're going to get through this." Then when a vaccine came out, I think the expectation, at least from a lot of the healthcare providers on the front line, was that people would get the vaccine and that that would help to get this off. So there's a lot of disconnects there.

So yeah, the research has shown, as you pointed out, that the ... The way that I presented this to the other day was that, I said, "How many minutes does it take a physician to interrupt a patient when they start telling theirs story?" And then I said, "Well, it's a trick question. Actually, it's not measured in minutes. It's actually measured in seconds, and it's 11 seconds." And if you look at the range in these studies, the largest was 234 seconds. So if you do the math on that as I have, it's less than four minutes.

It's made me think, as you and I have shared together, I wonder if, as leaders, executives, managers, all levels, I wonder if we have that same tendency to try to jump in and to react, to provide an answer, to provide a solution, without really just sitting in what I call the uncomfortable silence sometimes and really listening. Are we listening? Are we hearing? Seek first to understand. And it's uncomfortable silence, because we're just not used to doing it. You tell a doctor that they need to sit there and listen to the story. It's sort of counterintuitive, because they want to try to solve the person's problem.

And it's good intent, but one thing that I've learned, I'm still learning, as a husband, is that my wife doesn't need nor, frankly, want me to try to solve all of her problems. What I'm learning is that she just wants me to listen to what she's going through. And I think that we experience the same thing here in our work, in our markets, in our work relationships. And we need to pay attention to that.

Joyce Newmyer: There's a saying in patient experience, and it also applies to associate experience and our relationships with each other, "Hear me and see me and love me." It doesn't say, "Hear me, see me, love me, fix all my problems." Because some of them are unfixable. And when we jump immediately to fixing problems from our own perspective, we oftentimes either fix the wrong things or fail to address the real need because we didn't stop and listen.

It's why we teach listening. Sometimes people ask me, "Why are we talking about listening? We all know how to listen." And I'm not so sure that's true.

Dr. Jeffrey Egler: No, it's not true. I didn't know how to listen. As a physician, it's definitely not something that you're really taught. I don't think that until more recently, thankfully, we've been having this discussion in our organization, about two-way communication and what listening really means. But it's not necessarily a skill that is taught to most people. And at the age of 40, I had to sit down and learn how to listen. And I mean really, really listen.

We've used the term, in this conversation, that we feel that people were experiencing and expressing to us anger. And what you and I have talked about is that my teaching has always been, maybe not always been but more recently has been, that under anger is hurt. And I love the definition of healing which was taught to me, which is healing is the application of love to the part that's hurt.

But I think I tend to rush in with my solutions or my fixes because we don't like to see people suffering. We want to try to help them. But my quick fixes don't necessarily always help the real underlying problem. And if I don't stop and listen, then I'm not going to know what the underlying true problem is.

Joyce Newmyer: Well, this conversation deserves a lot more time than we have on Connect Live, so we'll search for other ways and places to continue the conversation. I love though that you've connected listening and sitting in the uncomfortable space, essentially with our mission statement, of living God's love by inspiring health and wholeness and hope. And that sitting in that uncomfortable space and just being with each other is so important. And listening, truly listening so that we can empathize, will, frankly, help get us through this.

And so thank you for being with me here today. We will continue the conversation.

Dr. Jeffrey Egler: Sure.

Joyce Newmyer: There's so much more we haven't had time to talk about, but I appreciate you being here with me today.

Dr. Jeffrey Egler: Thanks for having me, Joyce.

Joyce Newmyer: Our final story today is Giving Grace. When Sarah Sharp found out her mom's cancer had returned, many of the cherished memories they shared over the following months were made possible by generosity from family, friends, and sometimes strangers. Sarah has a term for what her family received during time. She calls it grace.

You can read the full story, how the support Sarah's family received during her mom's cancer battle inspired them to give back in a very unique way. You can enjoy this story as well as many others at Friends, thanks for connecting live. And we'll see you here again next week. Until then, let's be a force for good.