Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
In the Spirit of Service

In the Spirit of Service

This month I had the opportunity to facilitate workshops for the South Plains Food Bank (SPFB). SPFB was interested in hearing about the Relationship Centered Communications workshops we offer here at the HSC for our faculty members and clinical and administrative staff, and exploring how the skills we teach to our healthcare providers can translate to their work in the non-profit service industry.

 After hearing about their need for communication techniques their staff could utilize while interacting with clients of the food bank, SPFB asked me to share the curriculum we teach with their staff members.  In attendance were employees from every aspect of their operation, including HR personnel, dock workers, receptionists, delivery truck drivers, and client coordinators.

SPFB provides a vital service to our community and its staff closely interacts with community members daily, so they were very interested in learning about the techniques we teach involving creating positive rapport, empathy, and AWESOME customer service. The AWESOME acronym stands for Acknowledge, Welcome, Engage, Serve, On time, Manage next, End. This acronym serves as a reminder for the level of service each “customer” (whether a patient at Texas Tech Physicians, or a client of the food bank) should expect from staff.  “The training was AWE-S-O-M-E!  The easy acronyms not only made learning fun, but it will also be easy to implement” said Ruby Sanchez, Chief HR Officer of the South Plains Food Bank.

The staff of SPFB shared difficult communication scenarios with me, and as a group, we discussed best approaches to those situations based on the methods I shared with them. We also shared process changes that could be helpful to the staff when communicating with clients and suppliers and when moving clients through the different steps of receiving. Much like interacting with our patients, the food bank’s clients experience multiple points of contact throughout their experience, and staff must work in a “one team” fashion to meet needs and keep clients moving through their multi-step process. Improving upon any part of that process leads to improvement of the entire experience for clients, which is something we strive to also do at Texas Tech Physicians. 

 “This training played a huge role in improving our communication with who those we serve and each other as employees in order that we can stay focused on our mission to help those in need” said Dina Jeffries, CEO of the South Plains Food Bank. I was honored to be asked to provide training to the staff at SPFB as I believe their work is invaluable to our community and anything I can contribute to their mission hopefully, in turn, positively impacts the patrons of the food bank. 

Food insecurity is one of the most impactful social determinants of health, and therefore, the work of SPFB is important to Texas Tech Physicians because they provide a vital service to community members that also may very well be our patients. Ensuring these individuals have access to nutritious food improves their health.

With the holiday season approaching, where food insecurity in communities is magnified, along with the ongoing pandemic that has taken its toll on many, I encourage you to take any opportunity to provide a helping hand to those in our community – no matter what that looks like!