Make Patients' Escorts Feel at Home
Being a surgical patient's escort is a thankless job. While you and the patient are busy with the perioperative process, they've taken the day off to wait, and possibly worry. Offering them coffee and tea is a gracious perk, and waiting room Wi-Fi is a bonus. But if you keep them informed and treat them with the same personal attention and professionalism that your patients get, your business will make a positive impression on them as well.
- Running late? Communicate! If the day's surgeries are running behind schedule or subject to other late changes, it's imperative to inform family members or escorts of the delay. While patients in pre-op know that their cases aren't starting on time, they have no way to communicate this to their rides home. Make sure your front desk secretary or another staffer keeps waiting room families in the loop during longer-than-expected delays calling their mobile phones if they've left the site and your pre-op nurses offer to ferry information from patients to their escorts. Communication doesn't cost you anything, it's good customer service, and it makes the wait more tolerable.
- Make it personal. Draw up a simple floor plan of your waiting room, including all the furniture, and print out a stack of copies for your front desk staff. When patients check in for surgery, staff can mark up the maps to indicate where their family members sit, along with short descriptions. That way, when the procedure's done and it's time to lead them to the consulting area or PACU, staff or a surgeon or nurse can walk over with personal attention instead of hollering their name across the room or beeping a pager like at a restaurant.
- What's cooking? Here's a fun idea: Whenever you see cookbooks at a yard sale or on a store's discount table, pick up a couple for your waiting room. Patients on NPO orders won't like the appetizing reading, but it'll likely keep their escorts more occupied than clock-watching, wrinkled magazines and TV talk does. Maybe even leave little baskets of pens and recipe cards printed with your facility's name and logo on them, so they can copy down the recipes they want to try.
- Access authorized. When patients register at the front desk, wristband their family members or escorts as well to indicate that they're authorized to accompany the patients before and after surgery. Unmarked, colored bands will help you to identify them, and ensure patient safety, if they should leave your facility while they're waiting. When they return, showing their wristbands will quickly and conveniently gain them access to PACU.
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