Ekurhuleni’s Pholosong Hospital has launched an ‘I serve with a smile’ campaign to ensure that its employees become champions of good service.
“The campaign is more than just offering a smile, we are asking every staff member to go back to basics and show love, dignity, respect and humility to patients and their colleagues,” said acting Chief Executive Officer, Dr Ashley Mthunzi.
The hospital launched the campaign on 1 April 2019, when it recruited 64 senior managers and other employees, across all service areas, as its champions.
“I serve with a smile is our response to patients complaining about employees’ attitudes. The hospital conducted research and found that 90 percent of the complaints emanated from bad staff attitude. The campaign was launched to sensitise staff to service and to ensure they become customer focused,” said Mthunzi.
Over 200 employees have joined the campaign and taken the pledge. As a result, the hospital has seen a reduction in the number of complaints received and positive feedback from patients via its social media platforms and letters.
“Our members are starting to actively take part, whether through showing little acts of kindness to patients or by genuinely serving with a smile. Our courtesy marshals, who are frontline staff, are championing the campaign and setting the tone for a positive experience throughout the patient’s journey,” Mthunzi said.
To ensure that the campaign is a success, employees are first taken through an orientation process of the Patient Charter in their service areas. Employees who emulate or identify with the campaign's principles are nominated as champions by other employees. They then sign the pledge and receive a badge and t-shirt as a symbol of their commitment and so that patients can easily identify them. The champions are then inaugurated and a Quality Assurance Committee measures complaints, to determine the campaign’s impact.
Making a difference
Professional Nurse Nomalungelo Mavimbela, who works in the hospital’s postnatal unit, went the extra mile to serve with a smile by providing kangaroo care to a newborn girl whose mother was taking care of her brother in the intensive care unit. “Her photograph was shared on social media and she was praised by thousands of people,” said Mthunzi.
Monica Methula, a hospital cleaner who took the pledge, said she is always available to help patients find their way around the hospital, especially the frail. She explained that this is a healing gesture and she will continue to help those who need it.
“Community members in KwaThema, Tsakane and Duduza (Kwatsasuza), the hospital’s catchment area, have been sharing their experiences with staff members - from porters to doctors. They are also encouraging our employees to be more approachable so that they are free to ask them questions about their health and to make their hospital experience more pleasant,” said Mthunzi.
“Public service healthcare workers play an important role in the community. They are the heart of the community and more often part of the community. They are important when it comes to education on the management of diseases and have the power to empower community members to lead healthy lifestyles and manage their conditions more effectively,” she added.