May 28, 1998

To fulfill our mission and compete in today’s health care market, we must all be ever mindful of our need to demonstrate excellence in customer service. Health care experts have emphasized that patients and families usually evaluate their hospitalization or outpatient encounters according to their perception of friendliness of staff and physicians, convenience of parking and admission, referral and appointment scheduling timeliness, cleanliness of facilities and other non-clinical indicators. The general public often takes excellence in the clinical care itself for granted since the complexities involved might be difficult for the patient or family to assess.

At our May 26 communications meeting, one of the topics discussed, as indicated later in this newsletter, was customer service. In upcoming communications meetings we plan to hear other presentations from different perspectives on customer service issues.

In recent years we have made good progress on initiatives related to customer service. As we move forward we must continue our emphasis upon customer service in all areas through defining it as a “core competency” for everyone and through improved training and communication on this topic.

W. Stuart Smith Interim Vice President for Clinical Operations Interim CEO, MUSC Medical Center

Infant Abduction a Concern for Health Care Organizations

  • John Raven Jr., vice president and chief operating officer for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, spoke to the management team May 26 about the problem of infant abduction.
  • In 1987, the Federal Bureau of Investigation developed a profile of a person who steals children. Raven said this profile, which has changed little during the years, can be used to help hospital employees be aware of the type of person who may commit this crime. According to the profile, the potential infant abductor:
    • Is a woman between age 14 and 55.
    • Has had at least one child.
    • Is married.
    • Lives with a man.
    • Abducts an infant primarily to give the man she is with “his” baby in order to cement the relationship. (She believes that if she produces “his” child, he will marry her, or, if she is in a troubled marriage, he will decide not to divorce her.)
  • Carries the stolen child in her arms as opposed to a bassinet. (She perceives the moment of birth as when she picks up the child in her arms, and perceives the child as hers from then on.)
  • Is unpredictable. Investigators have not been able to judge when or where an infant abduction will take place.
  • In recent years, hospitals have increased awareness of the problem and improved security. While this helps limit the chances of the crime occurring in a hospital, it also created a new problem: more and more abductions are happening in homes. People posing as visiting nurses, for example, have stolen infants. Another frightening statistic is that when the abduction occurs in a home, a murder also happens 30 percent of the time.
  • Raven said the courts have determined hospitals have a responsibility to help educate new parents about the infant abduction problem and what they can do to protect their children. He also mentioned that some hospitals have put information about new births on the Internet as part of their websites. He believes this to be a dangerous practice, as it gives too much information that can be used by criminals.

Watch TV or Give the Gift of Life? Do Both!

  • At the May 26 communications meeting, Colleen Corish, nurse manager for Oncology Services, introduced Cindy Burbage and Leize-Ann Berry of the American Red Cross Blood Services, who discussed whole blood and apheresis donation at the Medical Center. The Red Cross holds regular blood drives for whole blood at the Medical Center and now has an apheresis center in room 267 of the Main Hospital.
  • The demand for whole blood and blood products for Medical Center patients is steady, and often there’s a shortage. For example, Corish noted that many of the Medical Center’s cancer patients need platelets—the cells that help stop bleeding. One problem is that when platelets are taken from whole blood donations, it takes between five and 10 units to collect enough platelets for a single dose. Seriously ill patients use a tremendous number of platelets. That’s where apheresis donation comes in.
  • Apheresis is a special kind of blood donation that lets you give just one part of your blood, like platelets. Whole blood is drawn and spun through a machine to remove the platelets. The rest of the blood is returned to the donor. A single donation removes fewer than 5 percent of your platelets, which your body quickly replaces.
  • The entire process, from giving your medical history to having a post-donation snack, takes about two hours. The new apheresis center in room 267 of the Main Hospital is equipped with television and a VCR, so you can watch your favorite soap opera, a movie, or an episode of the prime time line-up you might have missed while you donate. First-time donors get a nice umbrella as a “thank-you,” and all those donating in June will receive an American Red Cross 50-year anniversary T-shirt. For more information about apheresis donation, call the center at 792-3340. The center is open Monday and Wednesday from 7 a.m. - 2:30 p.m., and Tuesday and Thursday from 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
  • Whole blood and platelet donation is critical for our patients. If you have been thinking about becoming a donor, now is a good time to give it a try. Watch for the next Red Cross Bloodmobile, or visit the main office on Sam Rittenberg Blvd. Office hours are 11 a.m. - 7 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, and 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. Wednesday and Friday.

Customer Satisfaction Program Marks Its First Anniversary

  • Billy Bloodsworth, manager of Service Quality, and Margaret Robertson of the Office of Customer Satisfaction, gave the management team an update on customer satisfaction activity during the program’s first year.
  • The Customer Satisfaction Program was established in May 1997 to provide a hospitalwide system to address concerns, ensure follow-up and measure progress. A dedicated phone line (792-5555) was put in to handle all customer service-related concerns.
  • When calls come in to the office, the information is entered into Respond 2, a computer database program. (Bloodsworth mentioned that other hospitals have called with questions about Respond 2 and some have visited MUSC to get more information. He said having other hospitals using the same database will be helpful in benchmarking our performance.)
  • Staff members from the Customer Satisfaction office follow the calls until they are resolved. Bloodsworth said that everyone has been helpful and responsive in getting complaints resolved. He gave a special thanks to Risk Management, the customer satisfaction contacts throughout the campus and everyone who has assisted with a concern. He also gave a special thanks to Hospital Communications and the Hospital Service Coordinators for handling calls after hours and on holidays. q Between May 1997 and April 1998, the program logged 305 concerns, an average of 27 per month, or about one complaint for every 1,000 outpatient visits or inpatient admissions. Bloodsworth said he doesn’t think we have a big service problem, but reminded managers that one person who is dissatisfied usually tells his family members and up to 20 other people, who tell others, and so on. Every concern counts.
  • Bloodsworth also showed the management team a breakdown of the types of concerns logged. The top six are:
    • Attitude (28 percent)
    • Delivery of care (21 percent)
    • Delays (19 percent)
    • Accommodations or facilities (11 percent)
    • Communications (11 percent)

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