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‘They see things a little differently’ Volunteer panel advises Greenwich Hospital on operations

August 22, 2018 GMT

GREENWICH — Being a patient in a hospital can sometimes be a confusing experience, with complicated forms and unfamiliar terminology to digest.

Greenwich Hospital has been expanding an advisory group of volunteers who offer their services as community advisers, without any particular background in medicine, to provide another set of eyes and ears to the process of patient care. The overall goal is to improve the experience for hospital patients and their families, and to ease communications.

“They give an outsider’s view. They see things a little differently,” said a hospital staff member Debi D’Alba, who serves as the chairwoman of the Patient and Family Advisory Council. “Sometimes we’re too close to it.”

The advisory group started last September, with three staff members and five community volunteers. D’Alba said the hospital would like to double the number of community volunteers.

The group has offered suggestions to the hospital administration on range of issues.

Nancy James, of Stamford, agreed to become an adviser after she was a patient at the hospital. “It’s valuable to have input from patients and family, whether they had a good experience or not,” she said. “Feedback can help create change where needed.”

In one case, the advisers looked at the information packet given to people after knee and hip replacements. The information, D’Alba said, was “more from the clinical side.” The advisory group looked at the packet and came up with ways to make it easier to understand.

“It was very helpful, giving suggestions, making it a little more friendly to the patient and family,” said D’Alba.

The advisory group has also done walk-throughs of hospital facilities, to make sure “patient flow” is the best it could be.

“They’ve worked on a lot of projects, that directly affect patient care,” said D’Alba, the interim leader of the hospital’s Patient and Guest Relations Department. She said the hospital administration was aiming to offer a “team approach” to patient care and interactions with family members.

Volunteers are expected to attend a monthly meeting that runs for 90 minutes, as well as take part in projects that arise. A two-year commitment is expected.

D’Alba said the hospital was hoping to attract a diverse group of people, and volunteers can live outside Greenwich.

“Every voice matters. And everyone has a different perspective,” she said.

Interested applicants can contact Patient & Guest Relations at 203-863-4749.