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USA Health System
News Release
Mobile, Ala. (February 23, 2006)
Contact: Bob Lowry, (251) 471-7262

USA Medical Center Family Outreach And Support Makes A Difference For Patients, Families And Staff

Waiting areas at USA Medical Center, such as this one on the 8th floor, have been remodeled thanks to the CHEST Foundation grant.
MOBILE – A long vigil at the hospital awaiting news of a sick or injured friend or family member is stressful. Fortunately, the University of South Alabama Medical Center’s Family Outreach and Support program is helping to reduce stress and relieve anxiety.
As Mobile’s only Level I Trauma Center, providing the highest level of emergency care 24 hours a day, USA Medical Center patient visitors often have to cope with the most trying of personal and unexpected circumstances.
“We wanted to do more than provide the best medical care,” said Beth Anderson, USA Medical Center administrator. “Happily, there’s an organization that shares our vision of doing more for the families and friends of our patients.”
That organization is the CHEST Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the American College of Chest Physicians. The CHEST Foundation’s Critical Care Family Assistance Program, or CCFAP, has provided USA Medical Center with a grant to assist with waiting room renovations and staff efforts to ease the fears of families holding vigils for their loved ones being treated in the hospital’s intensive care units.
The improvements, some of which are ongoing, include:
• New snack rooms and children’s play areas within the larger    waiting areas

• More comfortable furniture and a music/quiet room

• Comfort bags with toiletry items

• A family consultation room with comforting colors and    furnishings

• Helpful information on local restaurants and hotels, along with    meal and hotel vouchers

• A kiosk where visitors can learn more about health conditions    and treatments
Comfort bags containing essential items are provided for patients and families who visit the USA Medical Center for extended stays.
USA Medical Center also offers pagers to visitors who wish to leave the waiting areas for the cafeteria, gift shop or other locations within the hospital. “The changes are having a soothing, calming effect on our visitors,” said Michele Watson, assistant project coordinator.
“For instance, our first comfort bags were given to the family of a young soccer player injured in a car accident,” Watson said. “They had arrived hurriedly and forgotten the little essentials. They were overjoyed to receive one of our comfort bags and could not say enough good things.”
“Our goal is to increase family satisfaction with our intensive care team members, decrease family stress and patient anxiety, and increase staff communication and collaboration across hospital departments,” said Michelle Richardson, nurse manager in the USA Medical Center’s surgical trauma intensive care unit.
USA Medical Center is one of eight CCFAP sites across the United States, and the site was put to the test during Hurricane Katrina.
“Although our renovations for waiting areas and consultation rooms were not quite complete, we opened the rooms for the families of all ICU patients,” said Anderson. “Ten days after Katrina’s landfall, these were filled to capacity and we had to open additional space to hold all of the grieving and anxious family members. Everyone here is so appreciative for the space. It makes the care we give seem less overwhelming.”
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University of South Alabama - Mobile Alabama 36688-0002 / 1 (251) 460-6101
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Date last changed: February 23, 2006 10:50 AM