The Critical Role of Support Service Associates in the Hospital

Posted on July 16, 2015

by Leslie Carey

HandwashingAmidst the ever-changing healthcare landscape, hospital leaders continue to seek opportunities to reduce costs and simultaneously improve patient care, outcomes and satisfaction. My Registered Nurse colleagues across the nation are continually challenged to “do more with less”. Patients are sicker. Hospitalizations are shortened. And, resources are limited.

Within the hospital setting, the registered nurse is responsible for the coordination of all aspects of the patient’s care. He or she is accountable to complete all physician orders either through direct execution or collaboration with other healthcare professionals. In addition, the RN must be cognizant of the patient’s medical condition at all times and respond to the patient’s clinical needs in accordance with professional practice standards.

Unfortunately, the nurse’s role has been diluted with responsibilities beyond the primary care of patients. However, an engaged and integrated support service team can eliminate or significantly reduce the “dilution” effect on nursing which allows patients to heal quicker, promotes a safer environment, and improves the satisfaction of nurses, patients, and families. The contributions made by support service personnel in today’s hospitals have become a crucial component to the organizations success.

moving cart_smallSupport service departments ensure: the hospital is clean, limiting the risk for infections; patient rooms are ready and available, improving throughput; food is nourishing and delicious, improving healing and wellbeing; linens are fresh, instilling trust and comfort; equipment works, improving clinical diagnostics and outcomes; and the lights are on, welcoming those in need.

In the March/April 2015 Journal of Healthcare Management, researchers from Cornell University shared their findings from a recent study that determined a positive physical work environment: 1. significantly improve perceived organizational support among employees, 2. lowered job-related stress, and 3. improved job satisfaction and organizational commitment.   These evidence-based findings further illustrate the importance of support service teams and their impact to nursing and our patients.

Hospital support service departments consist of competent, compassionate individuals striving to make a difference in the lives of others everyday.  As VP of Process Improvement, I am fortunate to personally witness the collaboration, teamwork and genuine respect between nursing and support service teams across the country. This partnership will aid healthcare leaders as they continue to navigate the unchartered roads ahead.

Leslie Carey is a healthcare executive with extensive experience in clinical operations, support service operations, financial/productivity monitoring and reporting, market planning and growth expansion, negotiation tactics, physician relations and customer/patient satisfaction.