About a year ago, Echo Vogel was visiting UCHealth’s A.F. Williams Family Medicine Clinic in the Stapleton area to observe staff/provider huddles. Vogel, project manager for the Office of Patient Experience for UCHealth Metro Denver (University of Colorado Hospital), decided to take some extra time to round the clinic and find out how things were going from the people who work there.
One of the people she spoke to was Joy Jackson, a patient access representative who works the front desk at A.F. Williams, checking in patients and assisting with tasks like ensuring the clinic has proper documentation for patients’ depression screenings.
Jackson, who has worked at A.F. Williams since 2012, told Vogel she was concerned by the number of patients who told her they’d been unable to find parking spaces at the front of the building. Many of them were in wheelchairs or were getting physical therapy for injuries, but had to hunt for spaces relatively far from the entrance.
“It was happening more and more frequently as our volume increased,” said Jackson, who also told Vogel she had a solution. Why not add a few handicap parking spots?
“Echo was talking about making improvements and I thought maybe she could get to the right people,” Jackson said.
For Vogel, the encounter with Jackson was an example of how UCH’s leadership rounding model, launched last February, is supposed to work. The idea is for leaders to visit assigned work areas and interact with staff, providers, and patients to solicit input about potential issues and identify issues to address them.
“It’s important for staff to speak up,” Vogel said. “We can speak to as many patients as we can during rounding, but they are the ones who have the day-to-day interactions with them and can help us make changes.” In addition, Vogel said, Jackson had not only identified a problem, she’d coupled it with a solution.
Change didn’t happen immediately. After the conversation with Jackson, Vogel got in touch with John Morrow, manager of Facilities Management for UCH to see about following up on the suggestion. Because UCHealth owns the building A.F. Williams occupies, it could create the additional handicap spots, and the parking lot was due for restriping anyway, Morrow said. But the painting would have to wait until spring when the weather warmed up, he told Vogel.
When winter passed and the temperatures began climbing for good, Steve Jones, supervisor for Facilities Management, oversaw maintenance work on the parking lot, which included striping three new handicap spots and erecting signs to mark them.
“Facilities has to manage the building that we own and this was a simple thing to do,” Jones said.
All of this went on unbeknownst to Jackson until a patient noticed the extra spots one day and told her about them.
“It makes me feel good that I could do something to help patients,” Jackson said. “I feel like I can talk to someone and ask and make that happen.”
Vogel hopes Jackson’s experience serves as an example for others. “There are no bad ideas. We want people to share them with the rounders,” Vogel said. “We will carry through or get back to their managers so they know what is going on.”