Patient experience is about creating a healthy environment for patients to heal – one in which patients feel respected and valued. COVID-19 elevated the need for a positive patient experience and complicated how that experience is delivered. Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System rose to that challenge with technology and strategies to enhance patient connection, support and safety.
Keeping Families Connected
Like most hospitals across the country, Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital had restricted and, in most cases, prohibited visitors to protect its patients and staff and slow the spread of COVID-19. These restrictions were very difficult for patients admitted for surgeries or through the Emergency Department, who would typically have loved ones by their side providing company and support as they heal. To bridge the gap and allow patients to maintain these essential connections, SVMH invested in iPads that patients can use for video chats with their family and friends.
The feedback from patients about the iPads for personal connection that go beyond simple phone calls has been “just phenomenal,” according to Lisa Paulo, RN, Chief Administrative Officer/Experience.
As conditions improved we were able to constantly adjust our visitation policy.
To listen to an SVMHS Ask The Experts podcast with Lisa Paulo, RN, Chief Administrative Officer/Experience, and hear more on this topic, click here.
Enhancing and Emphasizing Safety
Worried about being exposed to the virus, many people have avoided regular doctors’ appointments and even visits to the hospital for critical health concerns. Missing important appointments can put people at risk for worsening chronic conditions, and avoiding the hospital in an emergency – like a heart attack, stroke or severe case of COVID-19 – can be life-threatening. Ensuring patient and staff safety and reassuring potential patients that they will be well-protected is an important way to encourage people to seek the right care at the right time. To accomplish that, Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital screens everyone who comes into the hospital, employs a hospital-wide mask mandate, and has enhanced disinfection and protection protocols to maintain a safe healing environment.
When patients come to SVMH for care, they are greeted by a team ready to answer any questions and address any concerns. Members of this team are bilingual to effectively communicate with each patient, as well as understand any cultural considerations. Medical and support staff who are not bilingual have access to translation apps.
Easing language and cultural barriers is just one way SVMH staff remained responsive to patient needs. By listening and being responsive to patient concerns, staff made changes in small things that make a big difference. For example, a simple repair to squeaky wheels on carts and avoiding the use of certain equipment at night helped promote peaceful sleep for patients. Similarly, breaking down discharge instructions and medication management materials into easily understandable, bite-size pieces went a long way in helping patients successfully recuperate after discharge. At SVMH, respecting patients means being responsive to their concerns.