Employees at UAMS Take Time to Share, Celebrate Kindness

By Linda Haymes

What is ‘it’? Good will toward others.

There has been an outbreak of kindness across UAMS and it is running rampant, extending off campus to regional programs outside of Little Rock. And this is a good thing.

Employees recently took time to spread kindness to patients, colleagues, and themselves during Kindness Week, held September 16-20. The focus included being kind to UAMS guests, coworkers, leadership and the community.

“We had a different theme and activities each day to help us embrace that value and implement it in our daily lives,” said UAMS Chancellor Cam Patterson, M.D., MBA.

The week, part of our UAMS Kindness Campaign, included random and thoughtfully planned acts of kindness to spotlight kind employees and continue to spread kindness through daily prompts. Employees were encouraged to post on social media and tag with TeamUAMS and Spread Kindness. There were pop-up events with giveaways.

“Kindness is one of those things that is so simple to do and means so much to those who experience it,” Patterson, said. “One thing I find about kindness is it doesn’t take that much work and it makes people around me feel better, but it also makes me feel better.”

The focus on kindness will continue year round, with kindness challenges on the intranet and posting inspiring stories submitted through the new kindness portal. The person submitting the most inspiring kindness story each month will receive a free UAMS T-shirt.

“This was our very first Kindness Week,” said Annabeth Collier, special events and employee appreciation coordinator. “We had fun things planned daily and kindness challenges, very simple things like smiling at someone in the hallway or holding the elevator for someone.”

While much of the kindness shared was light, serious strains also emerged. By noon Tuesday, the outbreak had already reached Brittany Missouri, a cafeteria cashier. Sticky notes of positive, upbeat encouragement from co-workers covered her register and she left similar notes for them. But earlier that day, she also took time to comfort a friend struggling with a critical personal crisis.

Brittany Missouri, a cashier in the main UAMS cafeteria, works amid encouraging notes given to her during Kindness Week.

Brittany Missouri, a cashier in the main UAMS cafeteria, works amid encouraging notes given to her during Kindness Week.

“I appreciate that UAMS has set aside a week to be reminded of the value of kindness,” said Harold Dean, social work program manager for the Myeloma Center.

“Technology has improved our lives in many ways but also resulted in less one-on-one interactions,” he said. “We live in a fast-paced world with emails, text messages and social media focused on brevity and ‘getting to the point.’ As a result, sometimes people may forget about the importance of qualities like compassion and kindness in their interactions with others.” Dean said. “This week helps to remind us of the importance of kindness and concern in our everyday communication with others.”

On Thursday, Kind bars were distributed to employees, and Wellness Director Natalie Cannady led a stretching session at noon in the hospital lobby.

The week concluded with kindness toward the community as employees were encouraged to pick up a piece of trash on campus and to bring a can of tuna, chicken or peanut butter to the UAMS food pantry for those in need.

Several employees spent an hour greeting co-workers as they arrived Tuesday, distributing Team UAMS notepads. The next day, the focus turned to being kind to UAMS leaders.

Throughout the week, Kindness walls were displayed on portable dry erase boards covered with messages on brightly hued sticky notes sharing encouragement. Markers and pads of sticky notes were available nearby and those viewing the displays were invited to “take what you need and give what you can” by taking and sharing a note with someone else, and leaving a new one in its place. One included notes reading “You matter” and “So proud of you!” The notes on another stated “Be the reason someone smiles today” and “Be the energy you want to attract.”

“It’s a good idea to have a week of kindness,” said Mildred Randolph, D.V.M., a professor in the UAMS College of Medicine and director of the Division of Laboratory Animal Medicine.

“We have to always remember that anyone who comes to UAMS needs some help and being kind to each other will also spill over to how we treat our patients,” Randolph said. “It’s all about creating an atmosphere of kindness, both internally and externally.”