Upstate News

November 6, 2000
Doretta Royer 315 464-4833

University Hospital puts volunteers in Emergency Room to offer support to patients and families

University Hospital’s Emergency Room Volunteer Program is Central New York’s newest initiative to make a visit to the hospital less stressful.

The program was created in response to a need identified through hospital surveys of emergency room patients and staff, according to Jacqueline Jackson-Young, director of Customer Satisfaction Services at University Hospital.

“Our patient survey results show that the clinical care provided in our Emergency Room is considered excellent,” said Jackson-Young. “We want our interpersonal side of that care to be just as good, which is why we developed this program.”

The program enlists volunteers to provide emergency room patients and their families with a variety of services that allow emergency room staff to focus more on providing medical care.

“Our Emergency Room volunteers are given formal training to prepare them to work in an Emergency Room environment,” said Jackson-Young. “They are also carefully selected for their interpersonal skills. They help emergency room patients and their families in a number of ways such as by making calls to family members, by escorting discharged patients to a taxicab or by simply chatting about the weather to provide patients with needed distraction while they wait for test results and treatment.”

The program began in mid-October on a part-time basis with a handful of volunteers. Jackson-Young expects that the program will offer around-the-clock coverage in the Emergency Room, once a full complement of volunteers has been recruited.

“Our Emergency Department staff appreciate the time our volunteers spend with our patients,” said Howard Lull, 3rd, associate administrator of emergency services. “The volunteers are a welcome entity. They care for people in their community and who want to give of themselves. We can’t ask for better people than that.”

Emergency Room volunteers are considered an integral part of the hospital’s Emergency Department team, Jackson-Young said. “Because of this philosophy, they must work a minimum of a four-hour shift per week and are required to make a six month commitment.”

While the Emergency Room Volunteer Program is new to Central New York, it has proven effective in other hospitals throughout the state. According to one emergency room volunteer at New York City’s Bellevue Hospital, “the hospital emergency room is a place where the simplest gesture or task seems to make an enormous difference. I spend time talking to patients about their illness and I have been told that [in showing interest] I have done something incredible for them.”

To learn more about becoming an Emergency Room Volunteer or about the program, contact Volunteer Services at University Hospital at 315-464-5180.

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