Employees at St. Joseph Memorial Hospital have set the bar high with a new program that promises a 5-Star experience for all who enter the hospital; patients, families and visitors.
The concept came about as a way to rally the employees to continually provide excellent patient satisfaction
“This service is about making people who come here feel safe and welcome while they’re here,” said Steve Pautler, administrator.
Generally associated with a hotel, 5-Star treatment involves giving special attention to a guest in a friendly and helpful manner, along with luxury accommodations. The SJMH 5-star campaign committee used this idea to form the 5-Star program based on providing quality, accessible health care, while treating patients and visitors in a caring and compassionate manner.
“You are a name, not a number,” said Michael Adams, a recent patient of St. Joseph Memorial Hospital. “I thought that a small hospital might not be as good, but really they were better. Everybody
was polite. Even the housekeepers would talk to me and ask how I was doing.” Adams said one of the nurses, Cassie Larner, explained the 5- Star experience when he was admitted. He was impressed with how nice and polite the staff was during his six-day stay at St. Joseph.
The 5-Star Service Program was formed from five Press Ganey category teams: Campaign (accountability) Committee, Customer Service Training Committee, Communications Between Departments and Patients Committee, Volunteer/Use/ Escort/Personal Assistant Committee and Comfort Measure for Patients Committee.
A letter from Steve Pautler, FACHE, administrator, was mailed to each employee’s home inviting the employee to the kick-off of the new 5-Star Service Program and explaining the campaign to improve patient satisfaction and define the commitment to exceptional patient care.
A personal touch to the 5-Star Experience includes a volunteer (called a “floor ambassador”) who wheels around a beverage cart containing such items as coffee, magazines and crossword puzzles. “This is an extra nice touch for the patients,” said Mary Jane Snyder, committee member.
“The ambassador actually goes in and talks to the patient and offers to write a note for them, or just do extra things like that,” said Karen Henderson, committee member.
The Customer Service Training Committee developed employee scripts. For example, every time a patient asks an employee, “What is a 5-Star experience?” the scripted response is: “It is providing
exceptional care and service to our patients and all other guests.”
At the time patients are admitted, they are presented with a 5-Star experience card stating, “We want your visit to be a 5-Star Experience. It is our goal to give you a 5-Star Experience. If we do not meet this expectation, please contact any of our employees.”
They are also given a 5-Star welcome bag filled with a variety of items such as a nail file, hand lotion, chap stick, an SIH water mug, note pad and pen, and other items. All SJMH staff pledged their support to the new program by signing a commitment poster displayed in the first floor hallway for all to see. “The commitment poster lists behaviors that we expect,” said Henderson.
“It is a way to put the standards of performance in front of them everyday rather than every year at their annual performance appraisal.”
Patient satisfaction surveys can help identify ways to improve hospital stays, but SJMH staff try to nip problems in the bud while the patient is in the hospital.
“If there is something we can fix early on, we would like to do this initially before they go home . . . so we are trying to address those issues immediately,” Snyder said. When patients are discharged, they are asked if they had a 5-Star experience and, if for some reason they did not, the nurse will ask why and write their comment on a piece of paper that goes into a drop box. The comments are gathered weekly and discussed at the Building the Best Workplace committee meetings.
“One of the issues from patient’s comments was the outpatient surgery wait time,” Snyder said.
An action plan was developed. A map of the outpatient surgery area was also included to help patients find their way around the hospital. Employees submitted their ideas of what a 5-Star experience means to them and one employee summed it up.
“To be focused on seeing our patients, visitors and guests as though they are the most important person in our hospital. They gave us the opportunity to serve them by choosing us to come to. It is our job to see that their needs are met in a caring and compassionate manner.”