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"Hospital" originally meant a place where travelers could stay and be entertained, so a host who offers shelter is said to be showing hospitality.
Some of the students in a nursing issues course I was teaching-practicing nurses pursuing a baccalaureate-cringed when a newspaper ran a piece about hospitality initiatives promoted by local hospitals. The enticements included enhanced menus, Internet access, and various TV and video options.
My students were offended that the hospitals were promoting "hospitality" and "customer service" rather than quality patient care. After all, isn't that what patients really need?
Nurses understandably resent their work taking a backseat to bells and whistles in hospital press releases and news features. Some see customer service efforts as a cover-up for serious problems in the care delivery system. My guess is that most nurses who have a hard time accepting hospitality initiatives need more support to provide quality care. But they also need to recognize that having a plasma TV in the room doesn't prevent patients from achieving good outcomes.
With one foot in the business world and the other in health care, I believe that amenities are good for patients and for nurses. Attracting health care "customers" to a practice or facility where they feel at home improves the bottom line, making more money available to hire and support nurses. And satisfied customers contribute to a more pleasant work environment for everyone.
Nurses are the true measure of a quality health care facility or program. I want my family to receive care in settings where nurses like their work, take satisfaction in providing good care, and assume leadership roles in deciding how to best deliver care. Nurses should have a say in what amenities to offer patients too.
Hospital administrators, public relations officials, and developers of customer service initiatives need to work with nurses to help them understand the importance of hospitality measures. They also should set up task forces to explore and address nursing concerns as a solid basis for improved patient care. Nurses belong on every committee and project. Uncovering the issues they care about and investing to solve their concerns benefits everyone.
Satisfied nurses achieve better outcomes and improve patient satisfaction. Collaborating with nurses to please patients and families is a smart investment in better care and one of the best public relations tactics a health care business can use.
Cheryl L. Mee, RN,BC, CMSRN, MSN
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