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Holly Gaydos, left, Patient Experience, talked with Tabrinna Holloway, SRC Patient Transport, during recent rounds. Patient Experience team members have been rounding on support staff at both campuses and Yale Medicine practices since early January to thank them for their work, find out how they’re doing and learn what would help them in their jobs.

Staff rounding helps elevate the patient experience for every person, every time

When looking for a way to help during the recent COVID-19 surge, the Patient Experience data and improvement team, which normally focuses on improvement, rolled up their sleeves and set out to check in with staff. 

The goal was simple: focus on every person, every time. “We wanted to find out how our staff were doing and see what they needed,” said Tina Bennett, interim chief experience officer.

During the high patient census and COVID-19 resurgence in January, the Patient Experience team began rounding on employees across Yale New Haven Hospital. They visited the York Street and Saint Raphael campuses and outpatient sites from Greenwich to Guilford to show appreciation for employees’ efforts.

At first, employees weren’t sure what to make of the Patient Experience team as they visited them in their workplaces. 

Often all it took was one question – “How are you?” – and employees opened up about what’s working well and where they saw areas of opportunity. Employees also shared their own ideas for improvement. The Patient Experience team gave staff a platform to be heard, and used a leader rounding application, developed by Information Technology Services and Patient Experience, to track rounding efforts. 

During rounds, the team engaged with employees, using the leader rounding app to capture their comments and quantify rounding insights. Most employees cited staffing shortages as the biggest challenge, and said coworkers and teamwork were the best parts of their jobs. 

“We get overwhelmed sometimes, but you always have someone to talk to who helps you get through the day,” said Luis Diaz, SRC Patient Transport, during recent rounds. “We try to understand what other staff members are going through. My wife is a nurse, so I hear about the challenges nurses are dealing with.” 

Some of employees’ concerns are relatively easy to address. Kelsey Weaver, a new patient experience consultant, recently rounded at One Long Wharf’s Pediatric Specialty Center. Front desk staff requested signs about restricted visitation, as they had many families upset with the recent policy change. Weaver immediately notified Yale Medicine Clinical Operations Manager Stephanie Diaz, who posted signs at the entrance the next day.  

Listening to employees, ensuring they have what they need, and showing appreciation for the work they do are integral to boosting morale, which in turn, enhances productivity and leads to a better patient experience, according to Patient Experience staff.

Stephen Trajeski, a Saint Raphael Campus Food and Nutrition cold food production aide, was one of many employees who thanked the Patient Experience team for a Jan. 27 visit. 

“We do a lot of work here, making sure everything is clean, sanitary and safe,” he said. “It means a lot when someone says ‘thank you.’”