February 1, 2008

elevate: Answering the Tough Questions

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Medical Center leadership answers the tough questions about what the elevate program is and what it means for the people who work at VUMC.

Question: How should I handle an internal request to provide special services for a patient? With limited resources and escalating demand, my staff and I do the best we can with what we have, and providing extra services to a “VIP” means that another patient may go without that day.

Answer: When it comes to patient care safety, quality and satisfaction, I think we all agree there's no place for preferential treatment at our institution. Every patient whom we serve deserves the very best care.

We also should acknowledge that extra touches can go a long way toward preserving the good will that helps sustain our institution. When friends and supporters become patients, it's customary and proper to extend to them a bit of special consideration — a vase of flowers for a staff or faculty member, a favorite snack for a trustee, an escort through a back entrance for a famous musician. In many cases, it would be ungracious to neglect to provide these small favors.

Client and Community Relations arranges many of these touches, but faculty and staff may also be called upon to show an extra measure of solicitude — a quicker clinic appointment, for example, or extra privacy precautions. As we go about our jobs, if we find we're in a position to back up the institution in this way, then we shouldn't feel as though we're slighting the needs of other patients. If you're feeling overwhelmed, please ask for help. If providing such favors is going to prevent us from doing our job properly, then we need to ask for some help.

— Joel Lee, associate vice chancellor for Communications