A consumption-friendly food and beverage service, a revamped maintenance wing, a comprehensive end-of-life program and a pediatric emergency department each captured one of the Sodexho Marriott Service Excellence Awards this year.
Although the four projects were relatively inexpensive, they required communication across a wide swath of management and support ranks. The projects also improved employee morale and response times. Three of the four programs have enhanced the comfort of patients who were very young, very old or terminally ill.
Some 92 healthcare organizations entered the eighth annual competition, sponsored by Sodexho Marriott Services, Avon, Conn., and Modern Healthcare. Winners were chosen in four categories: patient service, vision in service integration, internal service and values integration.
Tony Alibrio, president of Sodexho Marriott's healthcare division, says the entries reflected a growing movement toward customer service. "We go to the hospital for medical care and don't have a very good way to evaluate our experience other than whether we get out feeling better," he says. "But we certainly can evaluate the attitude of the people, the creature comforts and the privacy."
"The creativity in these folks is amazing. The best (entries) showed involvement across the organization," says contest judge Barry Spear, vice president of system development at Iowa Health System, Des Moines. "They yielded some great ideas for addressing customer needs."
The vision award recognizes a program that melds service innovation with patient focus.
Prince William Hospital in Manassas, Va., won the vision award with the introduction of ERjr, an emergency room designed for pediatric patients. ERjr not only reduced the anxieties of pediatric patients and their parents, but cut down on treatment delays in the 130-bed hospital's regular emergency room.
The patient service award recognizes an initiative that increases customer satisfaction and the provider's responsiveness to patient needs. The winner was Trinity Lutheran Manor, a 120-bed nursing home in Merriam, Kan. Trinity Lutheran overhauled its food and beverage services, encouraging its frail residents to eat and drink more, and dramatically reduced the number of residents who had experienced significant weight loss.
"I was pleased that a long-term-care facility won," says Kristine Peterson, chairwoman of the judging and vice president of Greystone.net, an Atlanta-based Internet customer relationship management firm.
The internal service award recognizes an initiative designed to improve interdepartmental or overall facility service as it encourages teamwork and performance. Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit won the award for its extensive redesign and integration of its support services department, drastically cutting the time and effort required to resolve maintenance issues at the 668-bed hospital.
"So often internal service drives patient service, and this was a prime example," Peterson says.
The values integration award recognizes a program that fosters the culture of service. Daniel Freeman Hospital in Inglewood, Calif., was cited for its Comfort Care program, a new approach to the issues facing terminally ill patients and their families.
Each winner receives $5,000 to be divided equally between the sponsoring organization and its project team members.