It began with a need for patients recovering after surgery: a need for someone who had the time to sit, talk, laugh or just spend quality time with patients. A need that long-time Sharp Coronado Hospital volunteer Sherry Boucher says was fulfilled as soon as she brought the idea to the hospital’s administration a few years ago.
“I always thought we should offer a patient companion program so patients had someone to talk to,” Sherry says, from her home near the hospital. “Administration bought into the idea immediately and we worked with Victoria Risovanny, manager of Patient Relations, and Erin Salmon, manager of the Medical Surgical Unit, to formalize the program.” A number of volunteers have now been recruited to achieve the goal of having patient companions visiting seven days a week.
Placing people at the center of care
Patient advisors have long been at the core of Sharp Coronado Hospital’s patient- and family-centered care efforts. The original Patient and Family Advisory Council, which was established in 2004, has evolved to one of active partnership. Today, more than a dozen patient advisors are involved in hospital projects and programs, and most recently have become partners with unit-based management to facilitate the patient and family voice for decisions such as hiring team members and even construction projects.
These volunteers meet quarterly to educate and share progress with other patient advisors and hospital leadership. Now known as the Patient Family Partnership Council, it is comprised of past and present patients and family members — who know what it’s like to be in need of health care services. Patient advisors are dedicated to improving care for all. By working together and having an ongoing open dialogue, they are meeting patient and community needs.
According to Risovanny, patients and their families are always at the heart of everything they do. “Using the Planetree, patient-centered care model of health care delivery, we are committed to personalizing, humanizing and demystifying the hospital experience for patients and their families,” she says. “We focus on promoting patient and family engagement, and the Patient Family Partnership Council is one of the examples of the successful collaboration.”
As a patient advisor, Sherry says it makes her feel good to help patients in need. “My husband was ill for a long time so you could say I had some experience providing comfort and helping care for others.” Now she feels comforted by sharing that care with other families at the hospital.
Recognized for her work on behalf of patients
In addition to her volunteer work with patients, Sherry has also accompanied the Sharp Coronado administration team to several national Planetree conferences, to serve as a featured speaker and share how Sharp Coronado has advanced the role of patient advisors — and also to learn additional ways to bring Planetree’s best practices to the Coronado community.
In 2018, Boucher received a Planetree Scholar Award, which the organization says is given to those whose work has advanced patient-centered care while inspiring others to greater heights.
“We are grateful to all of our hospital’s patient advisors, including Sherry, who generously share their time, experience and knowledge with our patients,” says Risovanny. “They provide a valuable experience to our patients and are such a huge part of our care team.”
Learn more about volunteer opportunities at Sharp Coronado Hospital.