They're called Patient Experience staff, and they're the new, warm and fuzzy side of our state hospitals.
The State Government is introducing 86 of them across NSW hospitals - with two coming to Maitland - as part of its new $8.6 million Patient Experience Program expansion.
"This program aims to create a welcoming, safe, empowering environment for everyone who arrives at our emergency departments," Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Catherine Cusack explained
"Patient Experience Officers will greet patients on arrival and help to guide them through their care, providing information on where to go, what to expect, and updates on appointment queue.
"Patient Experience Program staff receive specific training from the NSW Ministry of Health Patient Experience Team, Service NSW, and their Local Health District, to ensure they are well qualified to provide this extra support to patients, carers and visitors."
The 86 staff will be deployed in emergency departments and COVID-19 clinics across 50 hospitals, with priority given to hospitals with COVID testing.
As part of the expansion, Maitland, John Hunter and Calvary Mater will receive two full time equivalent Patient Experience staff each, with Belmont and Cessnock receiving one.
Minister for Health and Medical Research Brad Hazzard said the recruitment of new positions has already started.
"This program has already been immensely valuable at the pilot sites, and extending this extra support across NSW is very timely as we continue to combat COVID-19," Mr Hazzard said.
As part of the program patients receive:
- access to free Wi-Fi, mobile phone charging stations, additional power points, water and other refreshments;
- information sent to their mobile device about what to expect during their stay
- fact sheets on their particular condition/ treatment options
- ongoing care instructions after discharge, available in multiple languages.
Advice in multiple languages will also be given on safety, hygiene and COVID-19 symptoms.