Patient Ambassador Volunteers and employees involved in the Bay Pines VAHC’s Ready, Informed, Dedicated Employees (RIDE) program pose for a photo on November 29
during a Patient Ambassador Day event at the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center
By Melanie L. Thomas, Public Affairs Specialist, Bay Pines VAHCS
Tuesday, December 5, 2017
The Bay Pines VA Healthcare System (VAHCS) is focused on providing a positive first impression by demonstrating a culture of care, and making the Veteran experience one where individualized personal assistance and information is readily available. One way the organization is achieving this is through its new Patient Ambassador initiative.
The initiative is a volunteer-led activity concentrated on improving service through patient greeting and navigation. More simply, the volunteers, donned in red vests, greet and guide Veterans and their loved ones who may need assistance with things like finding the location of a scheduled appointment or another area of the facility. The volunteers are also equipped to answer general questions and direct Veterans to various resources.
Patient ambassadors are currently available at both the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center located in Bay Pines and the Lee County Healthcare Center located in Cape Coral.
“We want to support each Veteran so that they can succeed in meeting their health care goals,” said Teresa Kumar, Associate Director, Patient Care Services.
“The Patient Ambassador Initiative is one small step towards making that happen. As we continue to gain Veteran feedback through our interactions, we hope to develop and understand more about how we can improve the quality of care we deliver,” she said.
Kumar explained that the Patient Ambassador initiative builds on existing programs developed by the healthcare system’s Patient Centered Care Council – the Patient Navigator/Greeter program and Ready Informed Dedicated Employees (RIDE) program. Both existing programs are similar in nature, and aim to improve customer satisfaction.
The Patient Navigator/Greeter program was developed to create a welcoming environment and provide wayfinding support. Also led by volunteers, the program is intended to enhance experience by lending a helping hand or welcoming smile, while connecting Veterans and visitors with resources at information desks, or with the volunteer escort program.
The RIDE program is employee-led and increases opportunities for employees to engage with Veterans outside their normal work space. The goal of the program is to enhance the Veteran’s level of satisfaction by delivering a seamless, integrated and responsive health care experience utilizing trained staff.
“All of our Veteran-centric programs are designed to make a positive difference in the lives of the men and women we serve,” explained Nathan Witt, Chief, Voluntary Service.
“While some of our newer customer service initiatives are in their infancy, we are certainly seeing some early success. At the end of the day, our goal is to not only delivery of the best care our nation has to offer, but to also provide a five star customer experience. The Veterans we serve deserve nothing less,” he said.
For more information about the Patient Ambassador program, or to become a volunteer, please contact the Bay Pines VAHCS Voluntary Service office at 727-398-9394 or email at [email protected].
Additional information about volunteer opportunities and other ways to get involved can be found by visiting: baypines.va.gov/giving.