The energy inside the breakout rooms was as uplifting as the view out the windows on June 20 as nearly the entire staff of Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center’s Department of Family Medicine participated in a patient-centered care (PCC) training at Wave Hill in the Bronx.  “Labor and management has made a huge investment, bringing together 120 workers for a whole day,” said Labor Management Project (LMP) Co-Director Bernadette Braddy. “It’s a real tribute to the value they place on training.”

Backed by a New York State Health Care Reform Act grant, the LMP originally created the PCC training for hospitals and recently adapted it for use in ambulatory care centers. Bronx-Lebanon’s was the first ambulatory care center to go through the training.

Morning and afternoon breakout sessions focused on adapting to recent changes in healthcare delivery while finding ways to improve care delivery and patient satisfaction. Each group was led by two facilitators: one LMP consultant and one member of the Bronx-Lebanon staff who had gone through the LMP’s train-the-trainer program. Medical Receptionist Registrar Deborah Williams appreciated the program’s emphasis on improving communication skills. “Having worked in healthcare for 26 years, communication is the most important thing, in my opinion,” she said. “What we say to our patients and how we say it is matters so much. It’s important to be as transparent as possible and also to be empathetic, so the patients can feel that and play it back to you.”

The Community and Family Health Center’s Medical Director Doug Reich made sure the day was also about self-care and replenishing the soul. Meals were served on the patio of the main house where the meetings were held, overlooking acres of beautifully landscaped gardens and lawns on the Hudson River. After the last session, the staff met for cocktails on the patio, where some also practiced yoga. Others headed out, alone or in small groups, to explore the grounds.

But improving the patient experience was always the main focus. As Program Manager Cris Benjamin put it: “I know a lot about culturally competent care and patient needs, but I liked looking at other little things that can have a big impact on patient satisfaction. Timeliness is an area that I can improve, whether it be the timeliness with which I return phone calls to patients or the timeliness with which I schedule people. Even though that’s good now, it could be better.”

Braddy was pleased to see how committed the participants were to sharpening their skills. “I’m watching and listening, and I think they are taking away new skills that they’ll use,” she said.

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