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Patient Experience Week: We Are All Part of Our Success

It’s Patient Experience Week, and Yale New Haven Health has much to be proud of – from big initiatives that are raising patient satisfaction scores to stories of individual employees impacting patients’ lives.

From Greenwich to Westerly, more than 300,000 patients a year write comments about their care, “and the vast majority of those comments are positive,” said Tina Bennett, chief experience officer, YNHHS. Comments repeatedly include words like fantastic, extraordinary and outstanding.

“Patient testimonials are powerful examples of the great work we’re doing across our health system,” Bennett said.

Patient Experience Week is also a chance to emphasize that every employee plays a role in making patients feel not only cared for but cared about. “Every person in our organization has an impact on patient experience,” Bennett said. “We had an EVS associate who learned that one of her patients was born on Valentine’s Day and loved hearts. They bonded over this, and that small connection made a huge difference.”

One day at Greenwich Hospital Susanne Vella, RN, and Erica Haskett, a patient relations specialist, jumped into action when a girl with Down syndrome was admitted for surgery on her birthday, delivering a big slice of chocolate cake with chocolate ice cream and decorating the girl’s room with balloons and flowers.

“To see the happiness on the child’s face – it’s really the reason we all do what we do,” said Debi D’Alba, director of Patient Experience, Greenwich Hospital.

“An interaction between people is at the heart of every patient encounter,” said Jaideep Talwalkar, MD, associate professor of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, Yale School of Medicine. “While it’s essential to identify and treat a patient’s symptoms, it’s equally important to acknowledge the personal and emotional circumstances surrounding their illness, and to preserve the patient’s dignity. The health system is prioritizing efforts to improve humanistic, relationship-centered care, which aligns with what we teach at the medical school.”

One specific priority over the past year has been YNHHS’ initiative to make nurse rounding more responsive – including training 5,000 nurses in new protocols. Bennett and her team recently highlighted rounding success stories at a national conference in Florida, impressing their counterparts from across the country.

At Bridgeport Hospital, for example, Meghan Barry, RN, a nurse manager, noticed that the compassionate care of her nurses was not necessarily “moving the needle” on patient satisfaction scores, so she focused on the call bell.

“I created a bright orange sign with sparkly stickers and stuck it on our call bell system. This was to remind staff to say, ‘I could have someone there in ten minutes’ rather than ‘We’ll be right there.’ By doing this, we set realistic response expectations, and this sets you up for success,” Barry said.

“We trialed Meghan’s strategies and saw almost immediate improvements in our Press Ganey responsiveness scores,” said Mary Wadsworth, L+M Hospital patient experience consultant. “Today, this is a systemwide initiative for all inpatient units. It’s a great example of sharing ideas and best practices across our health system.”

For any YNHHS employee, “It’s a privilege and blessing to participate in a patient's care,” Barry added. “The littlest things – bringing someone an extra blanket or knowing how they like their coffee – can mean so much. Our ability to impact lives should never be underestimated. It’s powerful, and we’re all part of it every day.”

What Our Patients and Their Loved Ones Say

Yale New Haven Health’s celebration of National Patient Experience Week, April 28 - May 4, highlights the impact of the human connection in every interaction across our health system – for every person, every time.

“We all have the ability to make a difference in the lives of our patients, loved ones, or colleagues,” said Tina Bennett, YNHHS chief experience officer. “Each day we hope that you remember the human connection, reach out to a fellow colleague to thank them, go the extra mile for that patient, create that lasting impression with the families. Connection is in everything we do.”

Here’s what some of our patients and their loved ones are saying about Yale New Haven Hospital:

I had several nurses assist me during my stay and I have nothing but good things to say about each of them. All paid attention to me and looked me in the eyes when speaking. If I needed assistance they dealt with me right away. And all were nice and seemed like they enjoyed their jobs and helping people.

I was petrified and alone. I had no idea what was happening. The gentlemen (from Patient Transport) that took me to and from my tests were respectful. They were kind. They were charming. They had a good sense of humor. On every “ride” I felt secure and comforted. The value they bring is far greater than they probably realize. Every point of contact in a person’s hospital stay is paramount and every single employee of YNHH can make a difference.

My husband and I both agreed that this was a great hospital experience from the very beginning with our initial consultation through pre-admission to pre-surgery, surgery and overnight stay. My husband felt very informed as a caregiver, and I felt confident in my care as a patient.