Patient Family Lounge Opened with New Patient Advocate Service

Bermuda Hospitals Board today officially opened a new Patient Family Lounge on the third floor of the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, along with a new patient advocate service to help patients and their families address issues while they are in hospital. The room was officially opened at a ribbon cutting ceremony on Monday 17 January 2011 by the Minister of Health, the Hon. Zane DeSilva JP MP.

Previously, there was no private waiting area for patient families at the hospital. While BHB constantly strives to improve clinical services for patients, the family and friends of patients are integral to their recovery. The lounge was opened to provide patient families with a place to wait, or a place of refuge while caring for an unwell loved one in hospital. It is opened during patient family visiting hours (12 noon to 8pm) and can also be available for families in crisis outside of those hours.

Attached to the Lounge is the office of the new Patient Advocate Manager, Ms Toni Bridgewater. This position was established to help patients and their families resolve any potential issues while they are in hospital, if the healthcare team caring for the patient on the ward is unable to resolve it.

Minister DeSilva comments: “Caring and supporting a loved one who is unwell can be upsetting and stressful. Having a place to recoup helps strengthen the support group around our patients and that in turn helps the recovery. I am also pleased to see that the new Patient Advocate Manager will have an office here. Catering to patient needs and troubleshooting issues while patients are in the hospital will greatly enhance BHB’s ability to meet the expectations and needs of the people of Bermuda. It gives me great comfort to see that BHB is focusing on making important upgrades to King Edward to improve its services.”

David Hill, CEO of BHB comments: “We believe renovating this space for the use of families and friends of patients, and providing a base from which our Patient Advocate Manager can work and meet with families will help us improve the overall experience of patients and help them in their recovery. There is a delicate balance investing in improvements, while remaining mindful of controlling healthcare costs and also that we will have a new facility in about three years. This was an important investment as there was nowhere private for families to wait before.”

The Patient Advocate Manager reports to the VP, Quality & Risk Management, Mr Preston Swan. Although this is a new role, the position does not replace the official complaints process. Instead, it provides an additional resource for patients and their families to address issues while they are in hospital, so that they can be resolved, rather than waiting to complain after being discharged.

Mr Swan comments: “The department of Quality & Risk Management deals with both the patient satisfaction surveys as well as receiving and investigating complaints. Toni Bridgewater is our Patient Advocate Manager and her role will be to deal with issues as they arise, if a patient or family member hasn’t been able to resolve them with their healthcare team. This could be as simple as the cleanliness of the room, the quality of the food received, or a clinical need that a patient or family member feels is not being addressed. Our driving belief is that if we can resolve an issue while patients are actually in hospital, then they will be able to describe their hospital experience in a more positive manner when they leave. Addressing issues proactively also reduces the need for patients and their families to resort to a formal complaint after they have been discharged. Making improvements that can make a difference is our goal and we hope that the level of satisfaction that patients and their families feel whilst in hospital will continue to rise.”

Ms Bridgewater can be contacted on ext 1425 at the hospital or 239-1425, or via email at patientadvocate@bhb.bm. Her office is located in the new Patient Family Lounge and she is available between 8.30am and 4.30pm.

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