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Sacred Ground

Posted By Dr. Bryan K. Williams, Friday, January 22, 2016
Updated: Thursday, January 21, 2016

There are certain places in this world that I truly consider to be sacred. One of those places is a healthcare facility. Whether it is called a hospital, doctor’s office, nursing home, or hospice is irrelevant. In that moment, when someone needs to be cared for and healed, it is a sacred one. One that healthcare providers should never take for granted.

As a patient, I am annoyed that I don’t feel well, and I’m even more annoyed that I have to go visit a healthcare provider. My schedule has been disrupted. I have anxiety about the diagnosis. I might even have more anxiety about how much the medication will cost. The one thing I don’t need, however, is to feel like I am a bother to those I am seeking help from. The healing truly begins way before patients actually meet the provider. It begins with the warm smile from the person at the registration/admissions desk. Or perhaps it begins with whoever answers the phone when the patient calls seeking answers.

Recently, I was facilitating a training session at a healthcare organization. The attendees were comprised of senior and mid-level leaders. Towards the end of the session, one leader asked me, "Under what circumstances should the leader not tolerate negativity from the staff?” At first, I thought the leader meant it as a rhetorical question, but then I realized that she was completely serious. In fact, as I looked around the room, EVERY leader was leaning forward and eagerly awaiting a response. I realized that it was a much more common issue than I previously thought.

After thinking for a moment, I told her that no negativity should be tolerated. Ever. In fact, the healthcare environment is sacred ground, and it should be considered sacred in every way. Especially by those who work there. On the way home, that leader’s question lingered in my mind. Early the next morning, I wrote the following:

Sacred Ground

This is where healing takes place.
This is where caring takes place.
This is where the ultimate expression of hospitality takes place.
Everything I say and do should declare that "I see you...I honor you...and you have unconditional worthiness".
Let there be no gossip.
Let there be no negativity.
Let us only lift each other up, as we lift up those we take care of.
Let us be grateful that there are people who entrust us with their health.
People who need us and depend on us.
May we never take that for granted or grow complacent.
This ground is not sacred because of my degrees, or certifications, or expertise.
It is sacred because "caring" happens here. Healing happens here. Love happens here.
From this day forward, I will consistently put the "care" in healthcare, as I care for my patients, care for my colleagues, and care for myself.
As long as I have breath, I will do everything I can to keep this ground sacred.
-Bryan K. Williams


Dr. Bryan K. Williams is a keynote speaker, consultant, and author who champions service excellence and organizational effectiveness. His clients include Baldrige-winning hospitals, award-winning school systems, and Forbes 5-Star Luxury Hotels worldwide. Bryan’s passion is to serve others so they may better serve the world.

Tags:  culture  Leadership  patient advocacy  patient engagement 

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