Eric Swanson

Eric Swanson
Episode 118

Join host Japhet De Oliveira as he sits down with Eric Swanson, the president of Adventist Health Tillamook to discuss Eric's 35-year tenure at Adventist Health Tillamook, his deep connection to the community, the challenges of rural healthcare, and his passion for being a grandfather.
Libsyn Podcast
"I guess that's what I want to accomplish. I want them [granddaughters] when I'm gone to say that he was a good Poppy."

Narrator: Welcome friends to another episode of The Story and Experience podcast. Join your host, Japhet De Oliveira with his guest today and discover the moments that shape us, our families and communities.

Japhet De Oliveira: Hey, welcome friends to another episode of the Story and Experience podcast. I'm here at Adventist Health Tillamook. Very excited. The clouds are a little gray and overcast, as my guest will recognize this particular time of the year. If you've never heard of this podcast and the way it works, that we have 100 questions and they progressively become more vulnerable and more open, the closer we get to 100, they're about stories and experiences that shape this particular person into the leader that they are today. I'm going to begin straight away, and I'm going to ask the first 10. Can we begin with your name and does anybody ever misspell it or mispronounce it?

Eric Swanson: Sure. My name is Eric Swanson, and occasionally people misspell my first name, which is E-R-I-C. That's the way Eric is supposed to be spelled.

Japhet De Oliveira: No K. No K.

Eric Swanson: No K. no C-K, and it starts with E, not A. Those are all kinds of ways to spell Eric and E-R-I-C is the correct spelling.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's good. Well, I'm glad Eric with E-R-I-C. That's great. Hey, Eric, what do you do for work?

Eric Swanson: I'm the president at Adventist Health Tillamook.

Japhet De Oliveira: Okay, and how long have you been in this role?

Eric Swanson: Almost five years.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah. Now, you've worked here longer than that or?

Eric Swanson: Yeah, I think that I'm close to 35 years working for Adventist Health Tillamook in one capacity or another.

Japhet De Oliveira: Really?

Eric Swanson: Yeah.

Japhet De Oliveira: 35 years?

Eric Swanson: 35 years.

Japhet De Oliveira: Well, that's quite a legacy there. That's great, so where were you born?

Eric Swanson: I was born in Seattle, Washington, and we lived in Seattle for a couple of years, then moved to Minnesota and lived in Minnesota. My mom was a CRNA and she wanted to go back to work for the "Adventist Church" and started looking for jobs at Adventist Hospitals. On August 15th of 1973, Adventist Health took over the operation of this hospital. The hospital itself is owned by Tillamook County, and at that time was operated as a county hospital and they weren't doing well. A gentleman in the community named Tom Wadd, who owned the local funeral home and was on the hospital board, went looking for a partner to run our hospital.

Japhet De Oliveira: Interesting.

Eric Swanson: Tom was a faithful Catholic man, and he picked the Adventist to help run the hospital in Tillamook.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's fantastic.

Eric Swanson: My mom was recruited as the first professional, and so we came about two weeks after the hospital became an Adventist Hospital.

Japhet De Oliveira: Really?

Eric Swanson: Yes, and the very first night we arrived in Tillamook, my mom, my brother and I, we stayed on the fourth floor, which at that time was a penthouse apartment. Our first night in Tillamook, we actually stayed in the hospital.

Japhet De Oliveira: Okay. Okay. Hey, that's fantastic, so you grew up in this community then?

Eric Swanson: Literally grew up in the community and more specifically, grew up in the hospital.

Japhet De Oliveira: Grew up. Okay.

Eric Swanson: There were many nights that I spent in the hospital. My mom would get called in, she was single, and she'd get called in to do a C-section or another type of surgery, and she'd wake up my brother and I, and we'd jump in the car and come here and sleep in the lobby on the floor or sleep in the car in the back parking lot.

Japhet De Oliveira: Really?

Eric Swanson: Stuff that we get, DHS would get called on today, but those are the things that we did. It was a different time. I loved coming to the hospital with my mom, and I liked to sit in the ER lobby. That was the place I wanted to be. I loved ambulances and had a vision of being a paramedic one day.

Japhet De Oliveira: Really? Is that where you want to be when you are young?

Eric Swanson: Yeah.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah.

Eric Swanson: From very young. In fact, while I was in grade school at the Adventist Grade School, which back then was like two blocks away, my teachers were super creative and they made me in charge of first aid for the school.

Japhet De Oliveira: Really?

Eric Swanson: Yeah, and we actually had a kid get hurt one day and I helped him. He cut his head on a tub that was out in the playground, that was part of the stuff we played on, and we had to bring him to the hospital for stitches. The entire school actually came because it was a very small school, 26 kids. We walked a couple blocks and hung out in the hospital lobby while Johnny got stitches in his head.

Japhet De Oliveira: You grew up literally in the hospital and in the community?

Eric Swanson: Yes, absolutely.

Japhet De Oliveira: And you worked together 35 years?

Eric Swanson: Yeah, so my first job here was a teen volunteer, and again, back in the olden days, I wanted to be an EMT or paramedic, and I was able to ride on the ambulance as a teen volunteer. I started that when I was 16. Then I worked in maintenance and housekeeping. I've actually mopped floors, patched the roof.

Japhet De Oliveira: You've done everything.

Eric Swanson: I've done laundry. I know this building very well, top to bottom. Then worked seven years full ... Well, while I was going to college, I was in Texas at Southwestern Adventist College, and I would come home on Christmas, spring break and summers and work on the ambulance.

Japhet De Oliveira: Really?

Eric Swanson: Because I became an EMT and I was able to work on my holidays.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's fantastic. Yeah, that's great. Now, I've got to ask, is your mom still with you?

Eric Swanson: No, my mom died a couple of years ago.

Japhet De Oliveira: Okay, all right. Did she ever, you became president then, was she alive at the time?

Eric Swanson: Yes, she was. She actually lived with me. The recruitment process for me being appointed president was fairly lengthy. It was eight months and one day she came to me and said, "Are you going to become president before I die?"

Japhet De Oliveira: Bless her.

Eric Swanson: Well, I think so, mom.

Japhet De Oliveira: Wow.

Eric Swanson: Yeah, it was great. She was very happy and very proud of me.

Japhet De Oliveira: What amazing legacy.

Eric Swanson: I love this community.

Japhet De Oliveira: Well, clearly.

Eric Swanson: Yeah. There's no place I'd rather be. Yeah, Tillamook, it rains a lot and sometimes it smells like cows outside, but it's okay.

Japhet De Oliveira: You know your people.

Eric Swanson: Yep. These are my friends and family that we're caring for every day, and I can't walk through the lobby most days or look at the inpatient census and not know at least one person. I think it's an honor, and I think that's one of the things that's unique about rural healthcare is you are taking care of your family and friends. When you're in a large urban center, and I know they give great care and they love their patients too, but some of them may not have that personal connection.

Japhet De Oliveira: Sure. No, it affords all of that.

Eric Swanson: Yeah, for sure.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's fantastic. Well, you answered quite a few of these initial questions in that brilliant stories, and I love them all. Let me ask you just a couple of practical ones. Like in the morning when you get up, what do you drink first? Do you start off with water, coffee, liquid green smoothie? What kind of person are you, Eric?

Eric Swanson: Start with a little bit of water and then I hit Starbucks in the morning. Okay, so that's unfortunately, probably don't tell the blue sones people, but that's my breakfast.

Japhet De Oliveira: Are you an early riser or late night owl?

Eric Swanson: No, I'm usually up early.

Japhet De Oliveira: What's early for you?

Eric Swanson: I'm up at 5, 5:30 every day.

Japhet De Oliveira: Okay. All right.

Eric Swanson: Usually into the office by seven. I'm usually the first person in the admin suite because it allows me to have some time to get through emails, get my day figured out. Every day at 8:30 I have a call with any of the staff that want to join, and so I prep for that. It's just a 10-minute call saying, here's what's going on today. We start with a text and a prayer and end with an insight for the day. Then in between is here's some stuff that you should know that's going on. Today I talked about strategy and where we're going in 2024 with the group, and I try and give that group the latest, greatest stuff first.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh yeah, that's great.

Eric Swanson: There's an incentive to be there.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's pretty good.

Eric Swanson: I have a faithful group of people that show up every day at 8:30 on a team's call and listen to me for 10 minutes, and so that coming in early allows me to prep for that as well.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's pretty good. That's good. Let me ask you this then. Personality wise, would people describe you as an introvert or extrovert and would you agree with them?

Eric Swanson: I think they're going to describe me as an extrovert, and I probably agree with them.

Japhet De Oliveira: And you probably agree with them.

Eric Swanson: Yep, but there's pieces that I like to be introverted. I like my downtime. There's times that I just want, you get home from work and you're tired and just want to do nothing. I don't need a bunch of stimulation. I like calm.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah. I enjoyed the tour that you gave me of the hospital and the way you interact with all of your staff and associates and you know all of them.

Eric Swanson: Yes. My problem is, I'm going to confess here.

Japhet De Oliveira: Okay, great. Confession is good.

Eric Swanson: Confession is good for the soul. I have a hard time with names.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh really?

Eric Swanson: Yeah, and so sometimes, I mean, I know the faces, but sometimes getting the names is difficult for me. Today was a great day.

Japhet De Oliveira: You did a great day. I was like, well, he knows everybody's name.

Eric Swanson: That's, again, the part about being in a small community. Not only do I get to interact with our associates in the hospital, but I interact with them at the grocery store. I'll see them in the grocery store and we can have conversation there about whatever they want to talk about. I go to a high school basketball game and I see part of our Adventist Health family there and get to interact with them in all different types of venues.

Japhet De Oliveira: Now, I'm surprised actually and excited as well that you guys are very interested in innovation because you don't think of that in rural areas. You think of like, Hey, we're going to maintain, we're going to provide quality, but so you've got some new innovation that I just saw. Yeah. Tell us about that. It's really amazing.

Eric Swanson: Being in a rural environment, we don't have every specialist in the world available to us. We have tried to do some creative things to bring, I'll call it big city healthcare to Tillamook. For example, in the emergency department, we have a stroke robot that we've been using for more than 10 years. If you come into the emergency department with stroke-like symptoms, they roll the robot over and connect to Oregon Health Sciences University or OHSU Stroke Center. The ED doc, the nurses, the patient, all interact with a stroke specialist and then that specialist can give us direction on how are we going to care for this patient? Are we going to keep them in Tillamook? Are we going to ship them to Portland? Do they need to be life-flighted? Do we need to do interventions here? It's been really, really helpful. Just this month we started using a robot in labor and delivery.

Japhet De Oliveira: Wow, okay. [inaudible 00:10:47].

Eric Swanson: For newborns.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's what I saw. It looks absolutely amazing.

Eric Swanson: Yeah, it is amazing, and you got to hear from Marion, our labor and delivery nurse manager who is thrilled to death with it.

Japhet De Oliveira: She was very emotional about it. She loved it. Clearly.

Eric Swanson: Yes, and she said, she told me it's a game-changer that you have a neonatologist from OHSU on camera, looking right over your shoulder telling you what to do, what not to do, or just reassuring you that you're doing the right thing, you're doing a good job. We actually had a couple instances where we started out using this stroke robot, but it became obvious that that's not going to work sharing one robot. We did a fundraiser and raised money for a second robot.

When we were using the stroke robot, we had one case where there was a newborn that wasn't thriving. We brought the stroke robot up to the labor and delivery and took care of the child there. The next day, our paramedics responded to a call where it was a precipitous delivery in the field and they had to do a full resuscitation. They turned on the stroke robot in the ED, the labor and delivery staff came down and had a neonatologist right there saying, "Here's what to do."

Japhet De Oliveira: That's amazing.

Eric Swanson: It is amazing to have the leveraged technology to provide better care, to provide the best care for those newborns. Anecdotally, we see that many of our kids that get transported to Portland that end up in a NICU are there less than 24 hours.

Japhet De Oliveira: Really?

Eric Swanson: This will help, I think, decrease the disruption to a new mom and a new dad and a new baby.

Japhet De Oliveira: Stronger start.

Eric Swanson: Yeah. It's wonderful. Like Marion says, it's a game-changer.

Japhet De Oliveira: That clearly is. Hey, that's fantastic. Hey, this morning when you got up early, 5-5:30 what was the first thought that went through your mind?

Eric Swanson: What's Japheth going to ask?

Japhet De Oliveira: Sure. Okay.

Eric Swanson: You've been on my mind all day.

Japhet De Oliveira: Thank you, Eric.

Eric Swanson: Actually, I got up earlier today because I had a seven AM meeting with one of our retired employees and she was coming to get her blood drawn like she does every quarter. We meet for coffee in my office and she worked, Paula, worked here for 40 years and remembered me when I was a little kid. We just catch up and make sure that she stays connected. We have, her husband is an employee here who's been here, I think 25 years, and he's still working. I believe that staying connected to our retirees is super important. When I got appointed president, one of the things I did is started an alumni association. Every fall we have an alumni meeting, which isn't really a meeting, it's more like lunch. Last year, we had over 60 retirees come back, have lunch with us, reconnect with their friends, and then I have an opportunity to tell what's going on at the hospital. One of them said, which I loved, she said, "I felt more connected at my alumni lunch than I ever did into my whole entire career."

Japhet De Oliveira: That's an honor.

Eric Swanson: Keeping in touch with those people who've supported the mission, lived the mission, and continue to be ambassadors for us, it's amazing. One of the lunches we had a physician, OB-GYN, and a family medicine physician who hadn't seen each other in 20 years. Even though they both live in Tillamook, they just aren't in the same circles. Those two guys had the best time.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's great.

Eric Swanson: It's a great thing to take care of people like that.

Japhet De Oliveira: Hey, that is really beautiful. All right, we have covered the first 10 without me having to ask a lot because you are a brilliant storyteller, sir.

Eric Swanson: I appreciate that. Thank you.

Japhet De Oliveira: Let me go here then you pick a number and where would you like to go?

Eric Swanson: 28.

Japhet De Oliveira: 28. All right, here it is. If you had to give, so if you had to give an impromptu thirty-minute presentation, what would it be about?

Eric Swanson: Oh, it would be about EMS Emergency Medical Services, 'cause I'm a licensed paramedic and I'm licensed in Oregon, nationally registered if I have to disclose this.

Japhet De Oliveira: Sure.

Eric Swanson: My ambulance department is my favorite department in the hospital. We own and operate a hospital-based ambulance service. It's actually the largest in the state. We've been providing ambulance services in Tillamook since 1974.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's amazing.

Eric Swanson: We do it from four different locations. The work that the paramedics do is just amazing. Impromptu, I can talk on EMS for days.

Japhet De Oliveira: For days.

Eric Swanson: For days.

Japhet De Oliveira: I was only thinking 30 minutes, but that's good. All right, that's good, so that's 28. Where next?

Eric Swanson: Oh, I got to pick another?

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah, you keep on picking until I'll let you know. Hey, got time.

Eric Swanson: 33.

Japhet De Oliveira: 33. All right. Oh, tell us about the best gift you've ever given someone else.

Eric Swanson: The best gift?

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah. That you've given someone else.

Eric Swanson: Oh my. I've been given some beautiful gifts that are wonderful and creative. I think what I've given, that's a tough one, but I mean, as a paramedic I've given the gift of life.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah, I bet. I bet. Yeah. That's an amazing point of service. Good. All right, that was 33. Where next?

Eric Swanson: Oh. 41.

Japhet De Oliveira: 41. Oh. What are you excited about in life right now?

Eric Swanson: Right now?

Japhet De Oliveira: Right now.

Eric Swanson: I'm excited about my grandkids.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah?

Eric Swanson: Oh yeah. I have two granddaughters, one of them is eight and she is amazing. Then her little sister turns three in about two weeks and she is great. I'm Poppy.

Japhet De Oliveira: Nice. I like it.

Eric Swanson: They live about 15 minutes from me, so it's great that I get to see them all the time. They love coming to Poppy's house and hanging out with Poppy, but I love my granddaughters. They're just ...

Japhet De Oliveira: That is the best.

Eric Swanson: ... They are perfect. Yes, and they get spoiled.

Japhet De Oliveira: I was going to say, do they get spoiled clearly?

Eric Swanson: Absolutely. Yeah. Absolutely get spoiled. My eight-year-old, I play the guitar and my eight-year-old, I just got her a baby Taylor and Taylor's a manufacturer, and I got a baby Taylor guitar for her.

Japhet De Oliveira: Not a Taylor Swift. Taylor guitar, right?

Eric Swanson: Taylor guitar. Correct. Because most of my guitars, all but three are Taylor guitars, and so she wants a guitar like Poppy. I got her a little Taylor. It's called a Baby Taylor. It's miniature size, so we're going to learn to play.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh, that's really good. All right, good. That was 41. Where next?

Eric Swanson: Oh, 45.

Japhet De Oliveira: 45. All right. When people come to you for help, what are they usually asking for?

Eric Swanson: Usually they're asking advice just like, "How do I navigate this issue?" Night before last I got a text message from one of our employees who I've known since she was in high school. She used to work directly for me in one of my departments. She's had some personal family matters and she just wanted help navigating. She said, "I knew I could call you as my boss/friend and ask how do I manage this?" Of course, I know her family members as well. That's usually what I get is advice. People don't usually come asking me for extra pay or extra time off. It's usually advice, "How do I navigate this circumstance?" I'm always happy to try and help them move through it as quickly and easily as possible and without barriers.

Japhet De Oliveira: Hey, that's good. That's good. All right, that was 45. Where next?

Eric Swanson: 49.

Japhet De Oliveira: 49, what are you currently learning about and why?

Eric Swanson: What am I currently learning about and why?

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah,

Eric Swanson: You ready?

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah.

Eric Swanson: It has nothing to do with work.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's okay.

Eric Swanson: I have a thing at home called a Helix Line Six.

Japhet De Oliveira: Helix Line Six. Okay.

Eric Swanson: Which is a pedal set for guitars. You can take your guitar and shape its sound with your Helix. When you hear guys play their rock and roll electrics and they get the fuzz sound and all that. The Helix, what it does is it mimics through patches, mimics speakers and amps and all those sorts of things. It makes the sound more robust. I play acoustic guitar and so what it does is makes it more robust. I can add things like reverb and delay and dotted eighth notes. It changes the shape of what the guitar sounds like. This stuff is really complicated and I don't understand it. I've been watching a lot of YouTube videos trying to figure out, "Okay, how do I make it sound the way I want it to sound?" It's good for my mind to be pushed in another direction, but that's what I'm learning today. I spend more time that and then my wood shop.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh really? Okay.

Eric Swanson: Yeah. I just got a new table saw and I'm going to be building a new kitchen for my son and daughter-in-Law.

Japhet De Oliveira: Nice.

Eric Swanson: I'm getting the new table saw set up. I have a new dust collection system and I'm looking at different plans and different ways to create kitchen cabinets and how are we going to do the doors and how are we going to finish the material?

Japhet De Oliveira: Well, for the record, for the listeners, I just want to let you know that I can see all of Eric's fingers. He has a table saw and he's doing fine. That's good.

Eric Swanson: Yes, and the table saw I just bought is a saw stop saw, and if you've never looked at a saw stop, you should go Google it because it's designed that if it senses your finger, it stops. The way they use it as an example is they take a hot dog and they run a hot dog through and as soon as it touches the blade, the blade immediately stops and drops.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah. I'm not going to test it out, but I'm -

Eric Swanson: We believe them. YouTube's good. YouTube's real.

Japhet De Oliveira: YouTube's good. All right. YouTube's real. The quote of the year. All right, where next?

Eric Swanson: 55.

Japhet De Oliveira: 55. All right. Share about something if you wouldn't mind, that actually frightens you.

Eric Swanson: Not much scares me, that's what most people tell me is you're not afraid of much. Part of that probably comes from being a cop for 31 years.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh really? Okay.

Eric Swanson: I don't know if you knew that.

Japhet De Oliveira: No, I did not know that.

Eric Swanson: I was in law enforcement for 31 years. Never worked full-time, but I guess for my community I worry about rural healthcare. In our community specifically, we recently had a dialysis center close. What is the future of rural healthcare when much of what we do is driven by numbers? When you only have 11 or 14 patients who require dialysis, it makes the financial case very difficult for a for-profit company to be able to do that. Even a non-profit company. The dilemma of small numbers and how it impacts rural healthcare is, I guess, something that does frighten me. Because what happens if I need dialysis? I think about that. Hopefully, that'll never happen, but you never know. People don't set out in their life going, "Oh, when I get to be a certain age, I'm going to require dialysis. Great." That's what really concerns me and how that impacts my family and friends in this community is an example. Dialysis is just one example, whether it's that or primary care or not being able to find a surgeon, those are the things that really make me nervous.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah, actually, I was asking you about that because it's a rural area and recruiting and obviously, the dialysis thing was not, it's not your company, it's not part of who you are, but it's a service that another company was offering in town. It's hard to recruit, isn't it?

Eric Swanson: Yes. I mean, we have one clinic, a rural health clinic where we've had a recruitment open for almost nine years for a primary care physician. We had to make the difficult decision that at this point we don't have a path forward for this clinic. The root cause is if you don't have a physician, right, you're not going to be able to build volume, build a panel. We decided we have to close that clinic. That's been a very difficult decision. It's been very painful because it impacts our friends, people that we know. Part of our Adventist Health family. Again, rural healthcare is not everybody is designed to work in a rural community.

Japhet De Oliveira: I think the national stance right now, it's about three years to recruit a doctor to any area. Obviously, in rural areas it's even harder and longer than that, it's nine years is a long time.

Eric Swanson: Yeah. One of our national recruiting firms that we use, they have a stat on their website that says that only about 2% of providers who are coming out of school or residency today are interested in working in a community less than 25,000.

Japhet De Oliveira: Wow.

Eric Swanson: 1% are interested in working in a community less than 10,000. If you look at every place that we serve, that's our demographic. In Tillamook County, we have about 27,000 residents, full-time residents, and literally we have more cows in Tillamook than we have people. Little factoid for you.

Japhet De Oliveira: Good to know. Good to know. All right, where next?

Eric Swanson: Oh my. Let's do 67.

Japhet De Oliveira: 67. All right. What's the best picture you've ever taken and why?

Eric Swanson: Oh, best picture I've ever taken. It's clearly one of my granddaughters.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh yeah?

Eric Swanson: Yeah, yeah. I'm thinking of the ones that I have in my office. I have some great pictures of my granddaughter when she was about three, maybe four on my back porch having a barbecue with my mom and she's with grandma and my little dog and me. I think those are my favorites, and just ...

Japhet De Oliveira: Life moments.

Eric Swanson: ... Yeah, with the iPhone and portrait mode and her brilliant red hair. It's beautiful. Yeah. Those are my favorite pictures.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh, that's beautiful. All right. Where next after that?

Eric Swanson: 70.

Japhet De Oliveira: 70. All right. Tell us about one thing you are determined to accomplish.

Eric Swanson: I guess it goes back to my granddaughters again. I want to be the best grandpa, right? I want to be the best Poppy that they want to be with all the time. I guess that's what I want accomplish. I want them when I'm gone to say that he was a good Poppy.

Japhet De Oliveira: Hey, that is wonderful. That's a good thing. All right. Where next after that?

Eric Swanson: 73.

Japhet De Oliveira: 73. All right. Oh, share about something that you've had to unlearn in your life.

Eric Swanson: Unlearn.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah.

Eric Swanson: I don't know if this is a very good example.

Japhet De Oliveira: Okay. That's okay.

Eric Swanson: In law enforcement you have to go to the range and qualify with your firearm, your handgun that you carry all the time. I have been known to develop some bad shooting habits, which impact my score. You have to qualify and prove competency. I've had to have some instructors work with me to get rid of my bad habits. Like squeezing the trigger too hard. You want a different one?

Japhet De Oliveira: No, no, that's great.

Eric Swanson: If you flinch anticipating that the gun is going to fire and you're flinching, your round is going to go down and left on the target. That's not what you want. When you're practicing shooting a piece of cardboard, you want it to be center of mass. Unlearning the flinch is one of the things that was very difficult for me and actually had to do practice at home with an unloaded firearm in front of the TV, balancing a penny on the front of the slide ...

Japhet De Oliveira: Really?

Eric Swanson: ... And just pulling the trigger and making that trigger smooth. Yeah.

Japhet De Oliveira: Well look at that. Good for you.

Eric Swanson: Oh, that's a good one.

Japhet De Oliveira: Good for you. All right, we have time for two more.

Eric Swanson: Okay.

Japhet De Oliveira: Where would you like to go?

Eric Swanson: 86.

Japhet De Oliveira: 86. All right. Oh, who was most influential in shaping you to be who you are now and why?

Eric Swanson: It's clearly my mother.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah.

Eric Swanson: Who else could it be, right?

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah, I saw that beautiful photo in your office of your mom. Yeah.

Eric Swanson: My mom was a CRNA and she took amazing care of patients. She even took care of me once or twice. I had to have elective surgery when I was seven, and she actually did the anesthetic and put me to sleep and she said, "I will never do that again." Then my brother has a ruptured appendix and so there's no other option because she's the only CRNA. She had to put him to sleep too, not what she chose to do, but watching my mom's example on how she cared for people and her kindness and empathy and compassion, those things were really important to me. Still today, people will come and tell me stories about my mother.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh, really?

Eric Swanson: About when she cared for them in the hospital, that even though she's been retired since '95, I still will get on occasion, "I knew your mom. I loved your mom. She could start the best IVs." She actually, this again, rural healthcare patients would come into the hospital to be admitted for something and would not allow anybody to start their IV except my mother.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh wow. Okay.

Eric Swanson: Then they would call my mom at home. She would come, day or night just to start somebody's IV. She had amazing skills that way. As a paramedic, I followed her example with how I cared for people. Being the top of my game with my skillset, being able to start IVs under difficult circumstances, being able to intubate patients. I always wanted to bring my A game and I got that directly from her. Directly.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's good. That's good. Beautiful legacy moment. All right, our last number, where would you like to go?

Eric Swanson: I'll do 99.

Japhet De Oliveira: 99. All right. Ooh. What's the most difficult truth you've ever told?

Eric Swanson: I guess one of the most difficult conversations I ever had was with a judge, and I don't remember what year it was, but I was the chairman of the Adventist School here in Tillamook, the school board, and our school was burned in an arson fire.

Japhet De Oliveira: Wow.

Eric Swanson: I ended up testifying in the sentencing of one of the young men that started the fire and burned the school. Both my kids were in the school at that time and I had just met this kid's dad. Very difficult to balance the side of being a Christian with accountability.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah. Yeah, and grace, mingled with justice.

Eric Swanson: Yeah. Difficult. Very difficult.

Japhet De Oliveira: Eric, thank you. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for taking the time and for clearly, your heart for serving this community, living and being part of this community. It's wonderful to hear. It's really encouraging and encouraging for rural healthcare. It's good. I just want to encourage people to do the same thing. Sit down with a friend, ask good questions, listen, learn. We both will discover things that will change us and make us better people as well. God bless you and thank you.

Eric Swanson: Thank you.

Japhet De Oliveira: We will connect again, my friends for another episode.

Narrator: Thank you for joining us for the Story and Experience Podcast. We invite you to read, watch, and submit your story and experience at The Story and Experience podcast was brought to you by Adventist Health through the Office of Culture.