Martha Jefferson Healthwise: Patient Advocate Program

By: Stephanie Satchell Email
By: Stephanie Satchell Email

February 20, 2013

Not only are doctors and nurses there to help you during your stay at the hospital, Martha Jefferson Hospital also wants patients to know that there's someone else there to make sure you have everything you need during your recovery. In this week's Martha Jefferson's Healthwise report, CBS19's Stephanie Satchell has more on the hospital's patient advocate program.

Melinda Carney isn't a nurse, but she often makes rounds at Martha Jefferson Hospital.

She is one of several patient advocates volunteering at the hospital.

"I love working with people and I find it extremely rewarding to go into a room where patients are feeling quite vulnerable and not at their best and making them feel comfortable and satisfied with the care that they're receiving at the hospital," said Melinda Carney, Patient Advocate, Martha Jefferson.

The patient advocate program has been around for more than 20 years and hospital officials say it gives patients an opportunity to voice their concerns to someone not directly involved in their care like a doctor or nurse.

"If they have a problem with their breakfast, it wasn't the way they wanted it, then the patient advocate can call the patient department and ensure that the next one is okay or that they send them down another breakfast before it's too late," said Martha Hunter, Director of Guest and Volunteer Services, Martha Jefferson Hospital.

Each day the advocate checks in at the nurses station to find out which patients are available and which ones need their service.

"We're non-clinical. I can't help them get out of bed, but I can help them with dietary concerns. I can help with any other discharge papers that they need and help expedite things for them," said Carney.

Not only do advocates help address a patients needs they're also there just in case they want to talk.

"Sometimes it's just someone to come in and sit with them and talk to them. They may not have any concerns at all. They may be very lonely," said Hunter.

While a patient advocate can't help with the clinical side, they're still helping patients get the care they need all while giving them a voice.

Martha Jefferson Currently has 22 volunteer patient advocates. The hospital's goal is to have an advocate on every floor every day making rounds.

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