Josh MacDonald Responds with HEART

Monday, February 9, 2015 - 2:46pm

Josh MacDonald, supervisor in Blood Collection Services, recently learned that when it comes to responding to unhappy clients, he has the skills it takes to turn the situation around.

When a staff member asked Josh to come out and speak with a patient who was angry about the process for registering, he wasn’t sure what to expect.

A few months ago, Josh had taken Respond with HEART® training, the second of two courses in the Communicate with Heart™ customer service training program. Respond with HEART® is focused on responding effectively and empathetically when patients, clients, families or colleagues are unhappy with service.

However, that training wasn’t top of mind when Josh first spoke with the patient. Josh was more worried about whether the situation would escalate to the point where he would have to call security.

In an initial attempt to resolve the situation, Josh calmly explained the registration process to the patient and shared why this particular process was necessary. The patient remained angry and continued to repeat his concerns without acknowledging any of Josh’s responses.

Eventually, the patient was registered and was called to have his blood collected. However, he remained upset. He continued to repeat his concerns about the process and then said he felt as if staff treated him “like a stranger off the street” due to what he was wearing - a jacket with a large hood that came down over his eyes.

For Josh, that statement was a reminder of what he’d learned in Respond with HEART® training - to listen to what the person is saying, identify his or her emotion and respond with empathy.

“When I heard him say, ‘I felt like this…’ it triggered what I had learned in training,” says Josh. “I said, ‘I hear what you’re saying. It sounds like you feel you were being typecast.’”

Josh says the patient immediately started to relax and said, “That’s exactly how I felt.” This was the turning point of the conversation. “It all turned around when I was able to identify that emotion and acknowledge it,” says Josh. “His whole demeanor changed. We were finally able to have a back and forth conversation.”

After apologizing for this person’s negative experience, “I told him I would follow up with the staff person who registered him. I also made clear that we require every patient to go through the same registration process, so were not singling him out,” says Josh. “I also gave him my manager’s name and the Patient Relations number in case he wanted to take his complaint any further. Then I thanked him for talking with me and I told him we welcomed his feedback. He thanked me back.”

Having been able to put his learning into practice so successfully was rewarding for Josh. “It felt good that I was able to remember what to do even in the heat of the moment,” says Josh.

If you are an employee, physician, learner or volunteer and want to register for Respond with HEART® training, please visit LMS. Please note that you must complete START with Heart® training before attending Respond.