From last to first: Alexandra Hospital shows it cares

SINGAPORE - A hospital leapt from last place to first in the new set of consumer rankings - propelled by lunches with unhappy patients, regular surveys and phone calls to the recently discharged.

The 350-bed institution stepped up its efforts to create a more caring environment after landing bottom of the pile in last year's Customer Satisfaction Index.

This helped to catapult Alexandra Hospital into the top spot with a score of 74.2 points - up from 63.6 the previous year. It beat Singapore's six other public hospitals in the latest rankings, which were released on Tuesday.

Mr Foo Hee Jug, chief executive of parent firm JurongHealth, said: "There is a person behind every patient. If we are not careful and begin to refer to a patient as a disease or body part - for example, a kidney patient - we inadvertently lose track of this fact."

Those who have made complaints or given feedback are invited to lunch under the initiative to improve service standards. The sessions, which are held once in two months for up to 15 patients a time, are chaired by Mr Foo and attended by more than 10 doctors, nurses and other staff.

Meanwhile, nurses will make phone calls to all discharged patients to check how well they are making the transition to life at home. For example, they might be asked whether they have any issues with medication.

Mr Foo also personally goes through every one of the 600 to 800 feedback forms "that comes through the door every month".

This is on top of monthly surveys to assess patient satisfaction.

Nurse clinician Koay Siew Khim, 44, said all new hires have to attend a two-day course on how they should behave towards patients. She said long waits are a key source of unhappiness at the specialist outpatient clinic where she works, so people are given regular updates on any delays.

A staff member will also go around with a trolley filled with free drinks and light snacks for patients, to ease the wait.

Mr Foo added: "Dignified, respectful and compassionate care makes all the difference."

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