By Mercy's Madelynn Innes
Even in the nicest hotels, those little comforts of home we forgot to pack can make for an uncomfortable stay. That’s why smart hoteliers offer complimentary toiletries to make a difference. Mercy co-workers on 5B share that same philosophy. They welcome every new patient to their unit with a list of “comfort items” they can have, if needed.
“If we say we care about our patients comfort, then let’s show them we care about their comfort,” says nurse Chris Choate.
Taking action to do just that, Chris and her co-workers on 5B designed a “Comfort Cart” stocked with everything, from emery boards, dental floss picks and lotion to contact lens holders, chapstick, books, magazines and more. And in the unit’s storeroom, there are extra blankets that can be quickly warmed when patients are cold. During rounds, nurses ask if there’s something they can get from the cart to help their patients feel more comfortable.
“A patient might mention he had a hard time sleeping the night before. That’s when we can say ‘Let me get you a sleeping mask or pair of earplugs, just to make sure your next night is better.’ They appreciate that; it’s those little things that make a big difference.”
It’s no surprise to Chris’ co-workers that she’s the one who came up with the cart idea. “She’s one of those people who wouldn’t hesitate to do whatever it takes to satisfy.”
But Chris insists that it’s been everyone’s follow-through that’s made the cart a worthwhile effort among patients.
No doubt, it’s that kind of thinking that’s reflected in 5B’s outstanding patient satisfaction scores. For example, on the survey question concerning “nurses explain,” 96.6 percent of their patients answered “always.”
“We knew we had the ability to improve but needed fresh ideas on what that might look like,” explains Nurse Manager Teresa Herrin.
Besides creating the Comfort Cart, Teresa asks her staff for input on other ideas, which they’ve been testing. So far, they’ve installed rounding clocks in each patient room, which has improved accountability among staff members and also with patients. “Staff members write their initials on the clock each time they’re checking on that patient,” Teresa said.
5B is also following the lead of Mercy's St. Louis hospital and experimenting with staggered start times among the staff to avoid excessive noise in the hallways.
“No one thing seems to be the magic bullet,” Teresa added, “but rather a desire to be better and the spirit to work toward being better.”
For all their efforts to work together and create a comfortable environment for their patients, 5B was recognized as September's Traveling Cup Award recipient (see photo above).