Many essential components comprise an outstanding short-term rehabilitation program. Topnotch medical staff, advanced therapy regimens and carefully supervised nutrition, of course. But what about hospitality?
Though it may not be top of mind, hospitality helps to enhance short-term rehabilitation. Making patients and their families feel welcome, providing a comfortable, well attended stay and ensuring needs and conveniences are met are all central to helping people get well and go home.
That’s the idea behind The New Jewish Home’s Rehabilitation Hospitality Associate, a new role aimed at delivering exceptional customer experiences to short-term rehabilitation patients throughout their stay – one of the first of its kind in New York.
Mariela Burgoa-Martinez, Jewish Home’s first ever Rehab Hospitality Associate, explains: “In most instances, I’m the first person a patient sees even before any of the medical staff, so I make sure we start off on the right foot and we keep that positive momentum going all the way until discharge. My goal is to make sure everyone here is being taken care of, one hundred percent.”
Beginning with welcome calls for new arrivals and their families to provide up-to-date contact information and visiting hours, Mariela is in constant contact with patients. She arranges entertainment materials, ensures rooms are outfitted with the proper amenities and makes sure patients are happy with their meals. But her responsibilities extend well beyond a comfortable stay.
In one of her most important roles, Mariela acts as an intermediary between patients and their therapists, answering scheduling questions and letting patients know if they will be seen by their physical or occupational therapist that day. In this function, she not only provides certainty to patients, she also alleviates certain administrative duties from therapists allowing them to focus on clinical treatments.
Mariela’s shift, which begins later in the day, has helped her develop routines that help her engage with patients. “My hours are 12 p.m. to 8 p.m., which is important because that’s when many patients are settling in and getting comfortable for the evening. That’s when I usually make my rounds, checking in to make sure whatever issues may have come up during the day get resolved by tomorrow,” Mariela said.
Only two months into her new position, Mariela has been working closely with the patient experience team. That’s at least in part due to her unique employment background for a skilled nursing facility, having worked in retail customer service before coming to The New Jewish Home.
“Working in retail, your interactions with customers don’t last as long but they can be much more intense. Having that experience taught me to resolve situations quickly before they escalate into problems and to anticipate needs before they happen, which is very helpful in this role,” Mariela revealed.
Anticipating patients’ needs, being accessible and maintaining regular, quality interactions—these are things that make Mariela feel good about her job and positively impact patient care.
“I like what I do and the patients can definitely sense that,” she notes. “Taking my time and really being present during interactions. That’s what makes the difference.”