Patients pleased

Published 12:57 pm Wednesday, July 21, 2010

FRANKLIN, Va. — Up to three times a week, David Fuller makes patient rounds at Southampton Memorial Hospital.

That’s because Fuller, who is the Franklin hospital’s chief executive officer, practices what he preaches.

It’s that extra patient attention, which Fuller requires of his staff, that he believes resulted in the hospital being ranked the highest in eight out of 10 areas of patient satisfaction among Hampton Roads hospitals, according to a state report.

“There’s nothing more important that I do to create that kind of experience for our customer,” said Fuller, who visits three to five patients two to three times a week.

In a new survey of hospitals by Virginia Health Information, Southampton Memorial Hospital patients gave the 221-bed facility the highest marks among hospitals in the region for cleanliness, speed, controlling pain, keeping things quiet at night and communicating information.

The survey included comments from at least 300 randomly selected patients from each hospital.

“We always felt like we put a lot of effort into ensuring patients have a positive experience,” Fuller said. “We were very pleased (with the survey results). We were compared to all hospitals in Hampton Roads, from Norfolk General to Newport News. To think we had the highest scores in the region — we beat them.”

The survey results didn’t surprise Dr. Daniel Peak, chief of Southampton’s medical staff and a member of its board of directors.

“I think the people work hard trying to do the right thing,” Peak said. “We live here. These are our friends, our neighbors. They’re not just our patients, and we try to take care of them.”

Southampton Memorial Hospital received the highest marks for:

■ Patient room and bathroom cleanliness, 78 percent.

■ Providing speedy help to patients, 68 percent.

■ Controlling pain, 73 percent.

■ Keeping noise down at night, 70 percent.

■ Nurses communicating with patients, 82 percent.

■ Doctors communicating with patients, 87 percent.

■ Explaining medicines before giving them to patients, 61 percent.

■ Providing patients with information for recovery at home, 87 percent. Southampton tied with Bon Secours DePaul Medical Center in Norfolk on this.

Fuller attributes the hospital’s success to educating employees.

“Education, education and educating them some more,” he said. “We’ve educated our staff on what kind of behavior is required that creates a perception in the mind of the consumer.”

One program requires staff to make hourly patient rounds.

“We’re trying to do preemptory checks on needs opposed to waiting for the bell,” Fuller said.

Nurses, nursing supervisors and administrators make the rounds, which is where he comes in.

“(That says) you are so important to us that our administrative staff, our CEO, will take a few minutes out of his schedule and see how you are doing,” Fuller said.

Sentara Norfolk General Hospital ranked highest in overall satisfaction among Hampton Roads hospitals at 70 percent. Southampton was second with 69 percent.

Sentara Norfolk also ranked highest, at 75 percent, in number of patients who would recommend the hospital.

At 55 percent, Sentara Bayside Hospital in Virginia Beach and Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital on the Eastern Shore tied for the lowest marks in overall care. Shore also ranked at the bottom for patients who would recommend the hospital.