That, in turn, could affect the quality of their stay and possibly outcomes.

A hospital in Longmont, Colo., has established a program that aims to counter those challenges by giving selected patients the opportunity to tell their story to trained volunteers who translate that interview into a mini memoir or a poem.

Called Storycatchers, the program has worked well enough for Longmont United Hospital, that it is working to assist another hospital in the Centura Health system with establishing its own Storycatchers program.

Longmont is one of the hospitals featured in a resource called “Engaging Health Care Volunteers to Pursue the Triple Aim,” a collection of case studies published by the Association for Healthcare Volunteer Resource Professionals, part of the American Hospital Association.

Laura Kinder, director of volunteer services at Longmont, says the program was adapted by one of the hospital’s volunteers, who got the idea after learning about a similar program at a senior living facility her mom was moving into. ““When she got back to a hospital setting, she started thinking, ‘Wow, maybe this is something that would help our nursing staff and physicians connect with patients easier,’ ” Kinder says.

The seven volunteers in the program spend a long time talking with patients who are likely to be in the hospital for an extended stay, and usually write the story or poem by the next day. One of the benefits is that it sets aside a formal time to talk about their lives or whatever is on their mind, Kinder says.

The final work is shared with whomever the patient wants, usually either family members and loved ones or clinicians or both, she says. “In cases where they’re end-of-life patients, they may be sending gratitudes to their caregivers,” Kinder says.

The mere presence of the storycatcher is meaningful.

Kinder shared a poem about one of the patients in the program.



To meet Jonathan
To meet Barbara
And what a privilege
In their presence
I feel their
Even if I don’t have
The words to capture it

He invites her
To join our conversation
And she does
Her warm smile
And kind eyes
Matching his own

They help each other
Remember places, names, dates
Times together
“Honey, the corps had 100 people”
But both know
That what really matters
Is how hard he worked
To earn her love
And how hard they have worked
To grow their love
For more than 60 years

Dedicated to The Air Force
And each other
They have created home
In Alaska, Germany, and several states
Home is where
They are together

Over the course
Of happy years and hard work
Sharing the joy
Of three sons and a daughter
Nine grandchildren
And three great grandchildren
They still speak to each other
As though
They are courting
Because they are

“Who inspires you?”
He is asked
Immediately he replies
“The woman I love.”
She smiles at him and
Hastens to add
“I love him.
He has accomplished so much
In difficult circumstances.”

And it remains clear
That to meet Jonathan
Is to meet Barbara
Because they are the definition
Of living the good life
They have built it together
On a solid foundation
Of love