An open letter to Banner Thunderbird (and the entire Banner Network)

To the employees of Banner Thunderbird (and the Banner Network):

I had a rough night recently. No, not the sleepless nights since my son, Malcolm was born. Those have been just as bad as everyone said they would be, but they were expected! No, I’m talking about the night before he joined us. December 30th, 2012.

You see, I’m not much of a one for waiting. Inigo Montoya and I are cut from the same cloth. I’m given to pacing and not being able to sleep. Especially when I’m facing great big huge events. Like, you know, the scheduled induction of my first (and possibly only . . . my wife and I aren’t young!) child. And believe it or not, my wife is even worse!

So given the fact that for over two weeks we had the date of December 31st circled on the calendar as THE date (at 3 am, no less! Someone out there is truly sadistic!), when the night in question came, we were both nervous wrecks.

Like good patients we did what we were supposed to and called about an hour and a half before we were supposed to head in . . .

. . . and were faced with utter shock.

Our appointment wasn’t going to happen. There weren’t any beds available for us at Banner Estrella. They didn’t know when there would be and that we should sit by the phone and wait.

I admit, this was a bit upsetting for me. I’ve worked in customer service for nearly a decade and “Don’t call us, we’ll call you; but I’m not going to give you an inkling of when” was one of the worst lines I’d ever heard. So I called back. I was polite. So was the lady on the other end. I asked for a ballpark. She couldn’t give it to me. OK, is it going to be today? No. Is it going to be tomorrow? Probably not. What about the next day? Maybe. Ooookaaaayyy. This has been going on a while if you’re that backed up, yah? Yes. Then why weren’t we told about it? Well, we sometimes get caught up. We couldn’t just CALL everyone on the roster for weeks.

We hung up with each other. My wife cried. I wrote an angry email to my aunt who used to be involved in such things. We tried to sleep.

The next morning, we called my wife’s OB/Gyn office and told our sob story and asked if there was any way we could get in ANYWHERE. At this point we just wanted to meet our son. It was his birthday!!

And this is where you beautiful people come in.

I don’t know who, precisely, could be said to have come through for us. If it was the wonderful Julie at Desert West OB/Gyn or someone in admitting at Banner Thunderbird, but you did. Someone found us a bed. We were called back and asked how quickly we could get there. We live in FAAAAARRRR East Mesa and had never made it in under 60 minutes. I made it in 50, including getting dressed and grabbing the “having a baby” bags.

And let me tell you, from the moment we walked in the front door, every single experience we had at Thunderbird was hands down FIRST RATE. Remember how I work in customer service? I do it for a living and have been paid pretty OK to advise on just how to give great customer service. I feel like I should direct people to YOU.

We had a friendly admission person who got us right through the process. Both of our LND nurses were so first rate I want to invite them to family BBQs (I’m talking to you, Abbey and Ann!) . . . in fact, even though we didn’t deal with the others as much, the entirety of the LND staff were all SO warm and welcoming I hardly knew what to do!

And please keep in mind that this was before Malcolm was a bit of a miniature celebrity. Before he was the first Banner baby of 2013! At this point he was just some potential boy that hopefully was going to come in before midnight (because Daddy needed that tax deduction!). This is just how amazingly they seem to treat EVERYONE.

Once the wee child had come screaming into the world, we were given fantastic treatment by the folks over in Post-Partum as well. Queenie especially was . . . queen-like; though it does everyone else such a disservice to not mention them all individually. It is my own failing that I was too overwhelmed by the moment to remember everyone’s name!

The long and short of it is that despite being born myself in a hospital that was to become a Banner hospital (Mesa Lutheran, which became Banner Mesa), and having had all of my nieces, nephews, and second cousins born in Banner hospitals . . . I was ready to give up on the network. I was so frustrated and angered by my experiences that I was ready to find alternatives going forward. Don’t get me wrong, I know that there is a lot which goes in to treating people. I know that there are decisions which have to be made about levels of care vs. something so small as “customer service” . . . But in this day and age where competition is everywhere, where every organization is trying to get more out of the same number of customers, and where even places like hospitals are thinking of themselves more and more like businesses and corporations rather than simple places of healing . . . then that tiny little thing “customer service” cannot be tiny. It has to be EVERYTHING!

But I digress. In this case, as a direct result of the wonderful people of Banner Thunderbird, I WILL absolutely be coming back; and may even be willing to make that ridiculous drive some more, just so that we can continue to get treatment right there at Thunderbird!

I cannot possibly thank you all enough, and I know that my wife feels the same. Mal does too, I’m sure!

Yours most sincerely,

~Daniel “Ash” Rhodes

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