Nurse believes ‘talking story’ is key to build trust with patients

By Khinna KaminskeMay 29, 2024

(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

Tripler Army Medical Center - Visiting the emergency department at any hospital isn’t typically a fun experience. But Gerald Raquel, a licensed practical nurse (LPN) at Tripler Army Medical Center, goes out of his way to make the experience enjoyable as possible.

The Emergency Department LPN is frequently mentioned in positive interactive customer evaluation (ICE) comments, which are shared with senior leaders, managers and staff to help improve services at the hospital.

“LPN Gerald was awesome! Everybody here is serious, but he made me laugh and feel comfortable,” one patient wrote.

“My nurse, Gerald, has great bedside manners,” wrote another happy patient. “I felt his genuine concern because he is genuinely listening when I was speaking. I didn’t feel rushed, which is very unlikely in an emergency setting. Overall, I am satisfied with the kindness I received today.”

When shown a list of the positive ICE comments Raquel said, “I love seeing these comments, but behind each of these comments, I see every person involved in the ED who helped me. I see my team. It’s not just me. It’s a team effort.”

Raquel has been a civilian nurse at TAMC since 2012 and sees the hospital as his second home. He also works as a seasonal musician and believes that whether with an audience or a patient, connection is key.

“I view the hospital as a luxury hotel,” Raquel said. “If patients come to our hospital, I am obligated and need to serve them well. If one person says something about you, everything can be bad. I want people to leave to say great things.”

Lt. Col. Kimberley Sugg, nursing director for Emergency Department, said that the reasons for Raquel’s popularity are clear. He knows how to relate to each patient as an individual.

“Gerald is a positive energy who always has a smile on his face and interacts with patients on a personal level,” Sugg said. “He kneels to get at eye-level with children, he talks pidgin with our local clientele, and he cares for our elders as though they were his own Ohana. This truly sets him apart and brings warmth to his patient care. We are extremely fortunate to have him as part of our ED Ohana.”

In Hawaii, the term ‘talk story’ is commonly used to describe talking with old friends, passing time chit-chatting, or reliving old times. A favorite technique of Raquel’s is sitting next to his patients, using a side-by-side approach instead of talking face-to-face. Raquel feels the conversations flow at a natural place and people aren’t as intimidated — especially kids.

“I see a customer wearing a band tee, and I talk about the band with them,” Raquel said. “I find out what songs they like from the band. If a patient is comfortable, personal connection is key, I can learn a lot about that individual in one encounter or those five minutes. And when that individual comes back, they remember name. I love to talk story.”

When asked what stands out to him about working in the Emergency Department, Raquel emphasized the importance of teamwork and developing relationship with his patients.

“I’m one of the first people a patient will see in the ED,” Raquel said. “I need to set the tone for the other providers, nurses and doctors. I’m always thinking about how I can create a comfort zone for them. Everyone has a role to play.”