Daryl Johnson

Oct. 5, 2020
Daryl Johnson is a former University of Colorado Hospital patient services rep. Photo by UCHealth.

Always lifting spirits high

You can’t miss Daryl Johnson.

“I have to wear something that pops,” said Johnson, a former patient representative at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital who now works as an EMS coordinator. “I love color and will wear pink with no shame.”

Christmas Eve 2019 was no different. He donned his ugliest, tackiest Christmas sweater.

“It matched my really bright, I mean bright, blue pants,” said Johnson, “but I took the bells off because that was just too much.”

As a patient rep, Johnson connected with patients and family members to address concerns and answer questions.

“I kept the peace,” said Johnson, who also spent years as a paramedic caring for patients with serious illnesses and injuries in the UCH Emergency Department. That fateful Christmas Eve, Johnson took a call from a 40-year-old end-stage cancer patient. She knew it would be her last Christmas with her family. She was frustrated and emotional.

Rather than try and mediate the situation from his office, Johnson decided to go visit her. He approached the patient as he always does – kindly and with an open heart and mind.

“I ask if I can sit down, and if I can, I take notes and then I listen,” said Johnson. “People want to know they have a voice.”

He sat on the bed of the young woman, who then laid out the issues.

Daryl Johnson is known for his bright clothes and caring approach. Photo by UCHealth.

“She started crying and then I started crying,” said Johnson, who spent the rest of the evening facilitating more productive communication among her care teams, thus, easing the patient’s worries. He then went on his way. But the story didn’t end there.

Johnson decided to call the patient on New Year’s Eve. He wanted to check in with her despite having successfully closed the case. He introduced himself as Daryl with the “ugly sweater and blue pants.”

She laughed and thanked him for making a difference in her care. Really, how could she forget.

Daryl won’t forget anytime soon either.

“She really appreciated that I was not dressed in scrubs or a white coat that night,” said Johnson. “I was just a person to her, not a medical person, and she needed to be heard by a person that night.”

Sometimes, clothes do make the man.

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About the author

Molly Blake is a communications specialist for UCHealth. She joined the team in 2019. Molly spent much of her journalism career freelance writing for various publications including The New York Times, NBC news, alumni magazines and more. She is the proud spouse of a United States Marine Corps veteran, and wrote extensively about their life in the military.