Daryl Johnson

May 20th, 2020

Communication counts

Daryl Johnson


Most days, Daryl Johnson wears something bright. “I love color and will wear pink with no shame,” said Johnson, a UCHealth patient representative. Christmas eve 2019 was no different. Johnson was wearing an ugly Christmas sweater and “really bright, I mean bright, blue pants” when he received word that an end-stage cancer patient was frustrated with her care. Johnson decided to visit the 40-year old woman in her room rather than call her.  Johnson approached the patient as he always does.

“I ask if I can sit down and if I can take notes and then I listen,” said Johnson, a former paramedic. The patient detailed her issue: the five teams caring for her were clearly not communicating.  “She started crying and telling me how she knew it would be her last Christmas alive and then I started crying,” said Johnson.

He spent time with the patient and helped figure out a way to facilitate some more productive communication among the teams. Johnson called her on New Year’s Eve, “just to check in” and introduced himself as Daryl with the “ugly sweater and blue pants.”

“She laughed and said she remembered me and that 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.”

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About the author

UCHealth is an innovative, nonprofit health system that delivers the highest quality medical care with an excellent patient experience. With 24,000 employees, UCHealth includes 12 acute-care full-service hospitals and hundreds of physicians across Colorado, southern Wyoming and western Nebraska. With University of Colorado Hospital on the Anschutz Medical Campus as its academic anchor and the only adult academic medical center in the region, UCHealth pushes the boundaries of medicine, providing advanced treatments and clinical trials and improving health through innovation.