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Leaders give the gift of time during Week of Gratitude


Lorraine Novella, RN, patient services manager (right), Total Joint Unit (Verdi 4 East), talked with Nicole Williamson, RN, (left), and Alyssa Battick, patient care associate, during rounds. 

Expressing gratitude is nothing new for Patient Services Manager Carlos Rogers, RN, and his staff on the Saint Raphael Campus inpatient General Adult Psychiatry unit.  For the past five months, he has invited staff to share something they’re grateful for during the unit’s post-rounding huddles, then listed their comments on a weekly “huddle board.” 

Surgical Oncology (NP 15) staff were touched to see a display of shamrocks with their names and special comments from Cara Henderson, RN, patient services manager, during the Week of Gratitude March 7 - 13.

Dean Caruso, executive director, Support Services and Sustainability, did more than walk in his staff members’ shoes – he wore their uniforms as he worked beside them, and shared their photos on Twitter. Melissa Turner, YNHH vice president, Human Resources, also rounded with Caruso.
Still, Yale New Haven Health’s Week of Gratitude March 7 - 13 gave Rogers the chance to do something he rarely does: swap his trademark dress shirt and tie for nursing scrubs. For two hours every day that week, Rogers worked “elbow-to-elbow” with his staff members on a variety of tasks. He was grateful for the experience.

“We spend a lot of time thinking about gratitude on our unit; I’ve worked hard to make it part of our culture,” he said. “The Week of Gratitude was another wonderful opportunity for me to listen to and learn from my team, and thank them for the work they do every day.”

Rogers belongs to the YNHHS Retention Committee that developed the Week of Gratitude in response to the unrelenting challenges employees in all departments have faced during the pandemic. Committee members heard from frontline employees that they missed having leaders visit their units or departments to see firsthand their challenges and triumphs.

During the Week of Gratitude, leaders at different levels and in all departments were encouraged to spend at least two hours each day rounding on and working side-by-side with staff. Leaders and staff also were encouraged to share photos of the week on social media, adding #YNHHSgratitude.

“This is an opportunity to see how we are doing things, to extend our hearts to our staff,” said Jeannette Bronsord, RN, executive director, Nursing Surgical Services, Yale New Haven Hospital. “This is the gift of time.”

Lorraine Novella, RN, patient services manager, and Julie Torello, RN, assistant patient services manager, already regularly round on their staff on the Total Joint Unit (Verdi 4 East). These rounds have become particularly important since Verdi 4 East became a COVID-only unit a year ago and staff members were relocated to the McGivney Advanced Surgery Center and Short-Term Surgery.

During the Week of Gratitude, the two unit leaders spent even more time rounding, adding early-morning and weekend rounds for off-shift staff. 

“Many staff members expressed a desire to get back to their home unit and be a family again,” Torello said. “They want to be able to continue to grow our service line.”

“Our leaders are always good about checking on us to see how we’re doing,” said Alyssa Battick, Verdi 4 East patient care associate. “But it was nice to have this time to talk to them aside from discussing a particular issue.”

Said Nicole Williamson, RN, “You feel like your voice is being heard.”