South Florida Hospital News
Sunday January 20, 2019
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April 2011 - Volume 7 - Issue 10

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How Healthcare Volunteerism Can Positively Impact Patient Satisfaction

Volunteers are a valuable asset in any organization, but in the healthcare industry they also interact at a significant level with both patients and their families. It’s that personal touch that has a tremendous impact on the patient experience and patient satisfaction.

Here are some best practices for translating volunteerism into higher patient satisfaction rates:
 
• Have a process in place that is welcoming to potential volunteers:
At Holy Cross Hospital, we individually interview every volunteer candidate in order to place them in an area that matches their experience and interests with where we need the help. This process ensures a seamless program whereby volunteers are happy in their assignment. Get to know them: in today’s economic environment, there is a trend in volunteers who are unemployed but who want to stay busy, involved and may potentially be looking to change careers. There also is the valuable resource of retired senior citizens who are volunteering to stay involved with worthwhile meaningful activity.
 
• Provide meaningful job assignments:
We find that volunteers see a healthcare setting as a nurturing environment where they have the ability to impact the life of someone who may be feeling anxious, worried or scared. For example, one of the surgical information volunteers recently shared a story with us about a family member waiting for his loved one in surgery. As the volunteer was escorting him to the recovery room, the gentleman asked if he could give her a hug for the comfort and information he needed during his family member’s surgery. That volunteer felt very valued. At Holy Cross we also have a unique group of volunteers that knit caps for newborns. Our parents are thrilled and sometimes want to include the volunteer in a photo with the family. Volunteers are motivated by situations like that. They can come in direct patient and family contact in several meaningful volunteer assignments. For example, at Holy Cross volunteers take patients from the recovery room, assist nurses in the infusion area of our Michael and Dianne Bienes Comprehensive Center, escort patients in the Dorothy Mangurian Comprehensive Women’s Center, take a coffee cart to patient rooms and offer items from the Gift Shop cart to patients in their rooms.
 
• Have departments ready to incorporate volunteers into their area:
In 2010, there were 717 adult and teen volunteers who served 135,000 hours providing support to more than 50 departments throughout Holy Cross Hospital, the medical group offices and at the Holy Cross HealthPlex. With those numbers, it is imperative to have communication between departments and the volunteers. That might be in the form of an orientation that could include an education on facility policies and procedures such as confidentiality training. The departments also should provide department-specific training for working with patients and their families.
 
• Provide recognition for success:
Recognizing the value of volunteers is inherent to a successful volunteer program. There are many ways for healthcare companies to show their appreciation to volunteers. It might come in the form of a profile or story in a company newsletter; a submission of their accomplishments for an external award; an internal “volunteer of the week/month” award; an annual volunteer recognition event; or a celebration with them in honor of National Volunteer Week in April.
 
• Align the goals of the volunteer program to the goals of the hospital or healthcare facility:
At Holy Cross, we provide compassionate care to our patients and we expect our volunteers to bring that same desire along with a positive attitude. Take the time, at least annually, to make sure that the volunteer program mirrors the vision and adheres to the values of the organization. Volunteers lend their time and valued talents with a joyful attitude and plenty of smiles and provide a boost to customer service that is irreplaceable. What organization wouldn’t want that?
Taren Ruggiero is the Executive Director of Nursing Services at HolyCrossHospital and can be reached at Taren.Ruggiero@holy-cross.com or (954) 771-8000. Abbie Klaits is the Director of Volunteer Services at HolyCrossHospital and can be reached at Abbie.Klaits@holy-cross.com or (954) 776-3171.
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