July 1, 2014

Patient-advocacy program provides helping hands

PLATTSBURGH — Utilizing the services of a medical facility can be a traumatizing experience, especially when the patient faces a serious injury or illness.

Whether entering the hospital through its emergency care center or as an inpatient for an extended stay, the experience can sometimes go more smoothly when there’s a helping hand available.

CVPH Medical Center in Plattsburgh has recently initiated a program aimed at offering assistance for patients and their loved ones when problems may arise.


“Just having someone there to pay attention to their needs can be very beneficial,” said Karen Tardelli, patient-advocate manager for the Medical Center.

“Sitting down with them, letting them know someone is there — that kind of effort can go a long way to improve patient satisfaction,” she added.

Tardelli and her staff of trained volunteers spend their days visiting with patients and family members while waiting to be seen in the Emergency Department or after they have been admitted to patient floors.

“My favorite part of this position is establishing relationships and meeting challenges head on,” Tardelli said. 


One of the more common concerns with patients — particularly while in the Emergency Department — is the wait to see a health-care provider. Tardelli and her staff recognize how disconcerting that wait can be, and their words of support often help fill that time.

She also works closely with Medical Center departments in developing patient-advocacy services. As part of her first-year responsibility, she has helped create a Service Recovery Toolkit designed to assist staff in working with patients who may have concerns with their treatment.

“By increasing satisfaction, faster healing happens,” Tardelli said of the connection between a patient’s favorable outlook and a patient’s health care.

When they hear of a patient’s concerns, staff members will meet with the patient (and/or loved ones) and distribute a written apology card noting that the hospital is “truly sorry we did not meet your expectations.”

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