A Promise to Be the Best

Born with a complex congenital heart defect, Mia Stoulil spent around half of her short life at Children’s Nebraska experiencing multiple open-heart surgeries and many ups and downs. As Mia and her parents, Heather and Mitch, navigated some of life’s hardest, most heart-wrenching days, they became intimately acquainted with the team at Children’s. Countless interactions with caregivers and staff gave them an up-close view of the organization’s values and behaviors in action.

“The patient and family experience is important because you’re dealing with the most important thing in a parent’s life—their child,” says Heather Stoulil.

Children’s commitment to improving the patient experience and service excellence has been an essential thread in the organization’s fabric since its founding. In recent years, though, this emphasis has become stronger, clearer, and more concrete. The organization has ramped up efforts to actively track and respond to patient family satisfaction survey data—listening more to serve better.

“We live in a technology-rich, advanced world where information is available at our fingertips, and service expectations across all industries are at a very high level,” says Cherie Lytle, Children’s manager of Patient Experience. “So when people come into a health care setting with so much at stake, they expect an even higher level of service and communication.”

Children’s recently formalized its dedication to service excellence with a new Patient Experience Pledge, a written statement visible across the enterprise that sets consistent behavior standards for physicians and employees. The ultimate goal: to help Children’s team deliver a remarkable patient experience each and every time.

“As a growing institution with a multi-generational workforce, we have to make expectations very clear and deliberate; we can’t assume people just know how to communicate and serve with excellence,” explains Lytle.

The pledge concept originally launched in 2014, but a revised version was needed after Children’s updated its organizational values in late 2016. “We’ve created clear alignment with our new mission, vision and values,” explains Lytle. “Children’s culture of service and the role we play in families’ lives continues to grow and evolve, but one thing must remain constant: our unwavering dedication to family-centered care.”

Heather and Mitch joined Children’s Family Advisory Council after Mia passed away. The group of past and present patient families was crucial in shaping the new pledge, sharing feedback, insights and personal experiences.

“It tells parents that Children’s holds its staff accountable to a very high standard of safety, quality and service,” says Heather. “When you’re in a vulnerable situation, it’s a promise that your child will be in great hands.”

It’s also intended to be a source of empowerment. “We hope this makes it easier for patients and families to speak up and advocate for their care. It’s an invitation to open a conversation with our team to ensure we meet and exceed the expectations we’ve set forth,” adds Lytle.

A bold display of the Patient Experience Pledge greets guests as they exit the elevators in the hospital and Specialty Pediatric Center; it’s prominently displayed in each main campus lobby, primary care office and off-site location. You’ll also find the pledge front and center at ChildrensOmaha.org. The message, reinforced in ways both seen and unseen: service excellence is at the heart of who we are and what we do.

Even after going through the worst of times, the Stoulils still remember the days when Children’s team showed them the very best in care and compassion. Ask Heather to highlight her favorite part of the pledge, and she doesn’t hesitate.

“I like that they specify that each staff member will treat each child as if they were their own. We saw this many times while we were at Children’s with Mia. Everyone made us feel as though they loved her, every day.”

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