I wish they would invent a hospital disinfectant that smelled like fresh baked cookies.

If you know me well, you’ve probably heard me say this more than once. I am reminded of this notion every time I walk into a hospital, which has been too often as of late.  You see, six weeks ago my big sister had a brain hemorrhage, and I have been on this deeply emotional journey to understand how and why and when and what and what’s next and how I can make it better and why do I feel so helpless, and AAAAAAAGH!?!… But ultimately, I have had to come to grips with the fact that there are no solid answers – just clues and hopes and steps and progress. And love.

So when I walk into a hospital and the smell of sterility hits me, I am deeply aware of the paradox that the hospital smells void of daily life, and yet is filled with people whose daily lives have been completely disrupted. These people are not just numbers or filled hospital beds. These are mothers and daughters, brothers, uncles, best friends, grandmas, even children. Inevitably, my wheels start turning about the impact being in the hospital has on these peoples’ lives.  That the goal of the hospital should be to make the stay of each patient as comfortable as possible, to provide the best care possible, to make a difficult situation easier.

I don’t always find this to be true.

I think the doctors and staff certainly have the best interest of their patients (customers), and good customer service in mind. They do the best they can to make each patient and his or her family feel comfortable, cared for and OK. But ultimately, it’s the insurance companies that rule the roost. Which means the almighty dollar takes precedence above all. The goal for each patient is that they meet certain criteria that will move them to the next level of care, which is generally a lesser level of care.  Read: cheaper.  Patients are shuffled from one floor to the next. From one doctor to the next. From one facility to another.  I can’t count how many times I’ve heard, “Will insurance even cover this? And for how long?” It always seems the ultimate question is: Who gets to do the billing?

At the highest levels, the patient ceases to exist.

So, all you customer service leaders out there, those of you who are setting the tone for your company, for your team, and ultimately for your customers, I challenge you. I challenge you as you go forward to remember your customers are not just a bottom line figure.  I beg you to keep the customer experience in mind, as you write your missions and values. Understand that your customers have a back story.  They want to be treated with dignity and respect.  And yes, ultimately, they simply want their issues resolved, whether it’s a product return or a fixed brain.

Most importantly, your customers have a name.  My sister is not Patient #555 in room 742 with Insurance ID ABC.  She is Anna Reyna-Gonzales.  And she deserves to smell fresh baked cookies.

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Comments
  1. Ty Sullivan says:

    Congrats on the launch of your blog! Off to a great start and a passionate one at that. After having practically lived in a hospital 4 years ago when my Father died in February and then my Mother in September, it was tramatic enough as it was without the ever present sensation of the scents and issues with the hospital.
    All in all we had some excelent people taking care of them so we were fortunate in that arena. Sadly, they all new me and my siblings too well.
    after my Fathers passing they were shocked to see us for an encore for my Mom.
    As I alwasy say, And So It Goes…
    Congrats again…We will be watching and wishing your sister the best!
    Ty Sullivan

    • Jen Reyna says:

      Spending time in a hospital is hard. I’m sorry to hear about your Father and then your Mother passing so close together. I lost my father at a young age, and it’s hard seeing my mother aging. I have spent my share of time in hospitals. It doesn’t get easier.

  2. Squirrl says:

    A)Your last line here made me pop like a balloon.
    B)I’ve grown more and more cynical/skeptical of anyone’s good intentions in the marketplace over the last decade because of scenarios like the insurance industry and those that the almighty dollar has a sound chokehold on and the shadow they cast over the things in life that really do matter.
    C)People like you give me encouragement and are far to rare a commodity. I/we need many, many more like you with your insight, compassion and absence of vitriol to effectively address and heal this status quo. Thank you for the share, and the read, and most of all the encouragement.

  3. Betsy says:

    First, it’s about time girl! So excited to hear your thoughts!

    Second, great first post. I have had 3 major insurance incidents this year and have found them to be truly infuriating, time consuming, and made me feel less like a “person”. I became a walking argument, fighting for what I needed to be made whole again. And mine weren’t even about life and death situations… they were about stuff.

    Third, mmmmm…. cookies.

    • Jen Reyna says:

      Thank you, Bets! Keep fighting the good fight. Insurance issues generally make my blood boil. I saw your blog on your house repair – you’ve had quite the year, but you are an amazing woman!

  4. Valerie MacNeilage says:

    Nice Job Jen. I am very impressed; I agree with you 100%, and I do understand! I have had family in the hospital, and myself when I couldn’t walk anymore and I had to fight the insurance tooth and nail to get my hip replaced. It is all about the money, and that is the sad truth! YOU GO GETT’EM GIRL!!

    • Jen Reyna says:

      Thanks, Valerie. So many people have had run-ins with insurance. It makes me grumpy to know that we pay into insurance every month, only to have them fight us tooth on nail on their coverage. Remind me what I’m paying for again? It’s quite sickening, when you really think about it.

  5. Chris P says:

    I’m due to finish COBRA at the end of the year – trying to find coverage at all, let alone at an affordable price, is proving somewhat difficult.

    • Jen Reyna says:

      Health insurance is downright expensive. Being self employed the last several years, we have had to pay through the nose for what I deem is sub-standard coverage. Good luck on your quest.

  6. Huzzy says:

    Jen, you are so well spoken. I’m honored to call you my friend. I couldn’t agree with you more regarding the insurance issues. I truly believe that the corporate insurance people shoud be forced to walk a day in the shoes of someone who has a loved one in the hospital for long term care, and to experience the smells…the constant moving of their loved one to different floors and different rooms, etc. I bet it would change a few minds. Wouldn’t it be great if they did an episode of “Undercover Boss” with Kaiser or something? Now THAT would be eye opening…

    Best and healthiest and non-sterile smelling wishes to you and your sweet sissy. ❤

    • Jen Reyna says:

      Thank you. You make me blush. I am honored to call YOU my friend. Thank you for all of your support. Undercover Boss at Kaiser would be amazing. And it will probably never happen. ❤

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