UTMC’s Welcome Center open for business

April 20, 2011 | Features, UToday
By Sarah Ritenour

There are smiling faces to offer assistance at UT Medical Center’s Welcome Center.

There are smiling faces to offer assistance at UT Medical Center’s Welcome Center.

The Welcome Center at The University of Toledo Medical Center used to be a standard patient waiting area.

Now when patients enter the hospital at the newly renovated main lobby, emergency room or Rupert Health Center, they are greeted with hospitality from a helpful person who may speak their native language.

Multicultural work-study students and volunteer ambassadors are stationed at the doors as greeters, escorts, liaisons and translators. Currently, eight languages are spoken: English, Spanish, Punjabi, Hindi, Arabic, French, Cantonese and Oromo (a dialect of Ethiopia). The center hopes to increase to 10 languages.

“Our goal is to step up our customer service. It’s an excellent experience for everyone who comes through the door,” said Lynette Hearst, support services specialist in the Department of Service Excellence. “It’s another way we can live up to our tagline ‘A Higher Degree of Healing.’”

One student ambassador had the opportunity to sit with a man waiting in the emergency room and have a conversation with him in Spanish. Another calmed a child by offering him a coloring book and crayons.

“Hospitals aren’t typically happy places,” said Baraj Singh, a student ambassador. “A smile just passes from one person to another and keeps this hospital as happy as it can be.”

Ioan Duca, UTMC director of patient satisfaction, said it’s more than acting as a greeter or an escort — it’s about the connection made with patients.

“We are only as successful as we are diverse,” he said. “When we are able to communicate and relate to our patients, it creates an experience they’ll never forget.”

Anyone interested in volunteering at the Welcome Center may contact Hearst at 418.383.3835 or lynette.hearst@utoledo.edu. “It’s a great way to give back to the UT community,” she said.

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