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The Still Small Voice: Feedback as a Path to Growth

Littleton Adventist Hospital

Information comes in many forms, but for Jillyan McKinney, the most vital type of information is feedback. As CEO of Centura Health - Littleton Adventist Hospital, she knows that one of the most essential parts of her job is listening to feedback from her colleagues and from the incredible people on the front lines of care delivery at Littleton Adventist Hospital.

“To me, feedback is a gift. If someone is gracious enough to share their thoughts with me, I work to listen and be grateful for their feedback, even if – especially if – what they have to say is not really what I want to hear,” Jillyan said. “When I allow people the space to be vulnerable and make them comfortable opening up to me even when they have a difficult message, we can connect on a very human level and we move forward stronger.”

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Jillyan attributes Littleton Adventist Hospital's 2020 Magnet Designation in large part to an environment in which feedback is not only allowed, but encouraged. For many years, the leadership team at Littleton Adventist have worked hard to cultivate a culture in which transparency and open communication are ingrained in the way associates work and interact with each other. By involving nurses in the shared governance of the hospital and establishing a continuous cycle of feedback in everything from patient safety to research to nursing and leadership practice, the nursing team’s wealth of knowledge, dedication to excellence and spirit of teamwork are able to shine through and have helped shape clinical practice throughout the hospital. High quality whole person care remains at the center of all they do, and is bolstered by a focus on communication, accountability, empathy and respect.

Change is constant in health care, but the COVID-19 pandemic brought change at an unprecedented pace. Jillyan’s commitment to listening and learning from those around her became more vital than ever as knowledge of the virus, its treatment, and best practices for ongoing care delivery continued to evolve almost daily. As the associates at Littleton Adventist pulled together to care for their patients and communities, they maintained a constant dialogue with hospital leadership, and Jillyan and the leadership team synthesized their feedback with information being shared across Centura Health to help support the health and safety of patients and caregivers alike.

Now nearly a year after the pandemic began, Jillyan is proud to say that the caregivers at her hospital have not only continued providing the highest quality of care for those they serve – including maintaining a focus on key patient safety efforts like reducing falls despite the extraordinary demands of COVID-19 – but have done so while maintaining exceptionally high associate engagement scores.

“Listening is such an important part of the equation,” said Jillyan. “No one stays engaged if you’re not listening to them, and our people have really incredible things to share if we only give them a forum. They want to be involved, and we want their involvement, because that’s how we continue to grow together.”

Jillyan’s emphasis on the importance of listening is rooted in her faith. For her, faith is not about the traditions of her church or expectations of her family; at its essence, her faith is about her relationship with God, which she has worked hard to cultivate. This relationship, too, is often an act of receiving feedback; in times of uncertainty, Jillyan said, it is a comfort to know God doesn’t expect her to have everything all figured out. Instead, she can listen for that still small voice to help show her the way. Her relationship with God and ability to lean on Him allows her to trust in herself even more, and has helped to shape her as a leader.

“In my walk, I have grown to accept that I am flawed, that I need God, and also that He loves me enough to show up for me,” Jillyan said. “I know He uses people around me every day to help influence my journey, and I know He is often using me as part of somebody else’s journey. That’s a huge responsibility, and it’s also one of my greatest privileges as a leader.”