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Volunteers impact the patient experience


Anthony Salvati, supply charge analyst, Perioperative Services, is also one of the volunteers in the 12-Step Recovery program who speak with patients about support services available to them.

More than 2,300 strong, Yale New Haven Hospital volunteers impact just about every area of the hospital and enrich the experiences of patients and their families, employees and YNHH's many community partners.

The hospital's theme for National Volunteer Week April 23-29 is "Celebrate YNHH Volunteers: Serving with Compassion and Generosity." The week will culminate with the annual appreciation dinner May 5.

YNHH volunteers, who range in age from high school students to seniors, served more than 200,000 hours in 2016 in more than 300 positions at both New Haven campuses, the Shoreline and North Haven medical centers, Long Wharf, Bridgeport Hospital pediatrics and Smilow Cancer Care Centers throughout Connecticut.

In the past, healthcare volunteers primarily delivered magazines and flowers and visited patients, said Lynelle Abel, director, Volunteer and Guest Services. Volunteers today still perform these functions, but are considered vital partners in enhancing the patient and family experience. Their impact is being measured in new ways, Abel said. The hospital has always tracked volunteer numbers, hours of service and the dollar value their service represents. The hospital is now measuring volunteers' impact on Press Ganey surveys and efforts to reduce noise, support pain management, reduce readmissions and other issues related to improving care and reducing costs.

Deirdre Doyle, RN, patient service manager, Medicine (EP 4-6 and 7), and Marcie Tratnyek, LCSW, have partnered with Volunteer Services to study 12-Step Recovery volunteers' impact on YNHH patients suffering from substance abuse.

"We are seeing lower readmission rates among patients who receive ongoing visits from recovery volunteers versus those who don't," Doyle said.

Volunteers in programs such as Foreign Language Visitation, Guest Liaison, Service Ambassador, Patient Aide, Oasis for Healing and Pet Therapy are addressing quiet and cleanliness, sleeplessness, patient belongings, parking and other issues that coincide with patient comments and departmental initiatives.

Other YNHH volunteers include patient and family advisors and members  of Patient Experience Forums, along with Auxiliary and Looking Forward council members, who raise funds for the hospital. Volunteers also impact YNHH staff experiences, providing services to more than 100 departments.

In addition to routine duties, volunteers help design and develop YNHH initiatives that help employees with their work.

To learn more about volunteer opportunities throughout YNHH, visit information tables:

  • 11 am - 2 pm Monday, April 24, and Wednesday, April 26, York Street Campus Atrium
  • 11am - 2 pm Tuesday, April 25, Saint Raphael Campus cafeteria
"There is no way to truly measure the impact of so many goodwill ambassadors, but National Volunteer Week provides an opportunity to shine a light on their gifts of service and compassion," Abel said. "Please remember to thank our volunteers for all that they do."