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Pleasing Patients at the Front Desk of the Hospital

Updated on August 28, 2015

I love my volunteer job at the front desk of the local hospital. I volunteer every week and have for years. For most of my volunteer years, I was the cashier at the gift shop. Working at the front desk is completely different, more challenging and yet more rewarding.

Volunteering is my way of giving back for the kindness many people have shown me throughout the years and being grateful that I AM healthy.

Beautiful Front Desk of Medical Center with Stairway Encouraged

front desk of hospital medical center
front desk of hospital medical center | Source

Front Desk for Patient Care and Information for Medical Center

front desk of hospital
front desk of hospital

8 Essential Utensils for Great Patient Care

The front desk of a hospital is the microcosm of our populace – the middle class, the ultra rich,  farmers, the very poor, the aging and of course the very frail and ill. All have one item in common, they don't want to be at the hospital.  For the most part, our patients are relatively healthy.  The majority I see are for same day surgery.  Perhaps it is the morning shift that I work.  I imagine the afternoon and evening would have a different focus.

My volunteer job duties are information and escorting or directing the patients to their care center. I enjoy helping the patients and visitors find their way through the hospital facility.

One of my favorite duties is pushing the wheelchair (the fitness professional in me does enjoy movement!). Recently, we added a new tool to our legion of chairs, an electric wheelchair to better service our weight challenged patients. My first preference - is the manual wide body chair. I like the exercise! Even with a heavy load up the ramp!

In this article, I will share with you, the helpful utensils that make the patients more comfortable. The eight essential utensils are not my ideas, they are ideas compiled from an outstanding slate of volunteers who I work with - many of whom have served the hospital for over 20 years.

Beautiful Smile

Beautiful smile
Beautiful smile | Source

#1 Smile

#1 Utensil is a smile. "Frown and you frown alone, but smile and the whole world smiles with you." Remember you may be your patient's only joy today.

As Charlie Chaplin so wisely wrote "Smile tho' your heart is aching. Smile through it's breaking..... Smile through your fear and sorrow....Hide ev'ry trace of sadness. Altho' a tear may be ever so near, That's the time you must keep trying..."

And your smile is needed not just for the hello but also for send off when they are leaving your hospital.

scissors with blue handle
scissors with blue handle | Source

#2 Offset Handle Bent Scissors

Offset bent scissors to remove the plastic hospital wrist bands is an absolute necessary. A small investment with great big rewards from appreciation from your patients..

Cutting off the hospital bands is a welcome treat for everyone when they leave the hospital. Keeping a pair of bent scissors makes this common task kinder to both the patient and to the volunteer.  So many people want to be independent, don't want to burden their friends and family.  To have a volunteer help out, literally puts them back in the driver seat as they head home.

needle nose pliers
needle nose pliers

#3 Needle Nose Pliers

Photo identification and medical cards all too often are sealed by the extreme heat and cold in our wallets.

Needle nose pliers (also known as long-nose pliers, pinch-nose pliers, or snipe-nose pliers)  are needed for those times when a new patient needs to remove their driver’s license and medical cards from the tight pockets of the wallet.

Works every time exceptionally well. This small relatively inexpensive tool designed specially for gripping tiny or thin objects makes a tedious job very comfortable.

photo of the box of Vick's Vaporub
photo of the box of Vick's Vaporub | Source

#4 Vick's Vapor Rub

Vick’s vapor rub has this very potent smell. Yes, this smelly item is needed at the front desk because on occasion there is a "mishap" and someone usually the cleaning staff has to manage the "mishap".

The smell of this potent drug is helpful to those who must walk past or deal with this smelly "mishap".

How to use: If you have a weak stomach – placing a very small dab under your nose will shield you from other odors.

dark umbrella
dark umbrella | Source

#5 Umbrella for Rainy Days

Umbrella for those rainy days. We all get caught in the rain at times. It is especially important to be able to accompany a patient with an umbrella during those rainy days. A golf sized umbrella works well when escorting the patient to their vehicle.

Incidentially, IF I were a pharmaceutical salesperson, I would invest in distributng a golf sized umbrella as a promotional gift to your hospital clients. When it is needed, it is very much appreciated.  The volunteers would be appreciative as well as the patient.

photo of a surgeon with a surgical cap and mask
photo of a surgeon with a surgical cap and mask | Source
respiratory hygiene care station box and products
respiratory hygiene care station box and products | Source

#6 Respiratory Hygiene Care Stations

Conveniently keeps face masks, tissues and hand sanitizers within reach.

More importantly, the station allows the patients and the medical staff to access these items without touching common surfaces.

Where I volunteer we have these multi-function stations throughout our entire facility not just at the front desk. This is a must for every waiting room, reception area.

This full service station combats the respiratory germs in the air with the face masks, on the hands with sanitizing lotions and from other air born germs from sneezing.

#7 Health Care Professionals Deserve Thanks

The medical professionals I work with are all top-notch. From the staff that I serve with at the hospital when I volunteer at the front desk to the fitness and therapy professional at the health center where I work. The clients they see are sometimes challenging because they themselves are strained beyond their comfort level with pain and therapy for the pain.

These medical professionals have a stressful environment. And while the "patient-focused" care seems rudimentary, it is most certainly needed as a reminder to all of us, staff and volunteers alike.

A simple "thank you" given by a fellow worker or volunteer goes a long way in what is sometimes a very long working day for these dedicated health care providers (or "caregivers" as the current terminology encourages).

For an interesting journey of one patient's journey through pain, feel free to viist the Duchess OBlunt's article - the link is provided to the right.

#8 Guidance - Two Great Resources for Patient Centered Care

Two great resources for "patient centered care" are:

1.) The Florence Prescription by Joe Tye and 
2.) Planetree

Both philosophies are centered around holistic care of the patient.

Joe Tye is the author of the innovative book with historical reference to Florence Nightingale he aptly calls the Florence Prescription. Joe "walks the talk" and has actively worked towards wellness and holistic solutions his entire career.

Planetree was developed by a former patient who received less than adequate caring from her hospital admission.

photo of the book The Florence Prescription
photo of the book The Florence Prescription

The Florence Prescription

"The Florence Prescription is a fictional story with a very real-world message. In these challenging times, hospitals and other healthcare organizations need every possible hand on the oars. Fostering a culture of ownership isn’t just about creating a nice environment in which to work and receive care, though that it is. A culture of ownership is absolutely essential for recruiting and retaining great people, ensuring optimal productivity and safe patient-centered care, and meeting the increasingly tough demands being placed on our industry by society at large. Today’s hospitals can’t survive, much less thrive, with hired hands on the job – they need people who think like partners, people who own their work rather than just renting a spot on the organization chart. They need The Florence Prescription"

Planetree is What Takes Us To "Great"

Planetree is not just a one-day wonder training. It truly changes the corporate culture of an organization. Of course it boils down to the representatives who are the Planetree designees. But the philosophy is a guide that is definitely needed in our very trying times. It is so easy to get lost especially in the midst of all the technology and sterile environment. Kudos to hospital staff for implementation and following through with Planetree. If you need your organization to progress from good to "great", please see the link to the right:

Replace Clumsy Crutches with Rollaid

comfortable new design for crutches - rolleraid
comfortable new design for crutches - rolleraid | Source

EXTRA - RollerAid™ - Substitute for Clumsy Crutches

RollerAid™ is a brand new item I just saw the other day.

It isn't a "front desk" item or an essential utensil but it is an item which I saw in use at the front desk of the hospital which I have to share with you as a great invention.

The RollerAid™ makes clumsy crutches completely obsolete.

It is essentially a knee scooter that serves to hold the infirm or frail/immobile leg and redistribute the patients' weight with the ease of the wheels which turn for added mobility. What a huge improvement over the old-fashioned crutches!

Patient Care Is More Than 8 Essential Utensils

Obviously, high-quality patient care is beyond a simple 8 utensils to retain at the front desk. It is those little things and caring that goes a long way. it is using, offering these utensils with the utmost of empathy and care to the patient.

The staff and the volunteers I work with are platinum level caregivers. I am proud and very happy to be with them each and every day.

I pray IF I should ever need the services of the hospital again to have the same great care I see bestowed upon our patients each and every day.

© 2009 Kelly Kline Burnett

Comments - Suggestions for Improved Patient Care

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    • GmaGoldie profile imageAUTHOR

      Kelly Kline Burnett 

      5 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin


      The pay is intrinsic. God does reward us with health and good fortune in other manners. I love being able to help others. If a smile and a wheelchair push brightens a day I am thrilled.

      I wish I had more time to write and to volunteer but time is finite and we must all choose our activities very carefully. I am very fortunate to have volunteered at a terrific site with amazing staff and volunteers. I learned so much.

      Thank you for your appreciation and kind words.

    • Bremma profile image

      Formerly penned ad 'Beaulah Hamilton'. Real name to be revealed one day.... 

      5 years ago from USA

      Wow, GmaGoldie, your hospital is soo lucky to have you! Your volunteer job is an extremely important one because the interaction that a patient or family might have with you, could be responsible for their general outlook as they continue on through the hospital, doing whatever it is they are there to do. Few people in your position take it as seriously as you do and see the opportunity that you have been given to create a great first impression for the entire organization! Way to go. You obviously get it! Just wish you got paid. You deserve the $$$!

    • profile image

      Duchess OBlunt 

      8 years ago

      What a wonderful and practical hub! Your insight into some of the utilities needed certainly looks like they come from personal experience. I love what you have done here! Well written and compassionate. Thank you for sharing your perspective. So often as patients, we don't think about those who are helping us at all.

      It's only a small gesture, but I thank you!


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