Patient Escorts at City Hospital

City Hospital is located in the heart of a large Midwestern city. It is one of five major hospitals in the area and has recently built a small addition for treating well-known patients, such as professional football players, top company executives, and singing stars. Visiting or local celebrities always choose City Hospital if they need treatment.

City Hospital has about 1200 hospital beds and employs 4500 individuals, including about 40 patient escorts. The job of patient escort is a rather simple one, requiring no special physical or mental talents. The work is easy, few skills are required, and the pay for the job is considered good. When patients need to be moved from one location to another, patient escorts are summoned to assist in the move. If the move is only a short distance, however, a nurse can move the patient.

Of particular importance is the fact that patient escorts almost always take patients who are being discharged from their hospital room to the front door of the hospital. A wheelchair is always used, even if the patient is able to walk unassisted. Thus, the typical procedure is for the nurse to call for a patient escort; the escort gets a wheelchair and goes to the patient’s room, assists the patient into the wheelchair, picks up the patient’s belongings, wheels the patient down to the hospital’s front door or to his or her car in the parking lot, and returns to the work station.

The job of patient escort is indeed critical to the hospital since the escort is always the last hospital representative the patient sees, and hence has a considerable influence on the patient’s perception of the hospital. Of approximately 40 escorts, about three-fourths are men, and one-fourth are women. Most are high school graduates in their early twenties. Some, particularly those on the early morning shift, are attending college at night and working for the hospital to earn money to pay college expenses. Four of the escorts are older women who had previously served as hospital volunteers and then decided to become full-time employees instead.

Turnover among patient escorts is quite high and has averaged 25% in recent years. In addition, upward mobility in the hospital is quite good, and as a result, another 25% of the escorts typically transfer to other jobs in the hospital each year. Thus, about half of the patient escorts need to be replaced annually.

The hospital follows a standard procedure when hiring patient escorts. When a vacancy occurs, the human resource department reviews the file of applications of individuals who have applied for the patient escort job. Usually the file contains 15 to 20 applications. Two or three applicants are usually picked and asked to come to the hospital for interview. The applicants are interviewed first by the human resource department and then by the patient escort supervisor. The majority of those interviewed typically know some other employees of the hospital, so the only reference check is a call to these employees.

Every new escort attends an orientation program the first day on the job. This is conducted by a member of the hospital’s human resource department. The program consists of a complete tour of the hospital; a review of all the hospital’s HR policies, including a description of its promotion, compensation, and disciplinary policies; and a presentation of the hospital’s mission and philosophy.

During this orientation session, employees are told that the hospital’s image in the community is of major importance and that all employees should strive to maintain and enhance this image through their conduct. After orientation, all patient escorts receive on-the-job training by their immediate supervisor.

During the last two years, the hospital has experienced a number of problems with patient escorts, which have had an adverse effect on the hospital’s image. Several patients have complained to the hospital administration that they were treated rudely, or in some cases roughly, by one or more patient escorts. Some complained that they were ordered around or scolded by an escort during the discharge process. Others stated that their escorts were careless when wheeling them out of the hospital to their cars.

One person reported that an escort carelessly tipped him over. All escorts are required to wear identification tags, but patients usually can’t remember the escort’s name when complaining to the hospital. Additionally, the hospital usually has difficulty determining which escort served which patient because escorts often trade patients.

Finally even when the hospital can identify the offending escort, the employees can easily deny any wrongdoing. He or she often counters that patients are generally irritable as a result of their illness and hence are prone to complain at even the slightest provocation.

At the request of the hospital’s top management, the assistant human resource director asked the human resource manager, the head of the staffing section within the human resource department, and the chief supervisor of patient escorts to meet with her to review the entire procedure used to select patient escorts. It was hoped that a new procedure could be devised that would eliminate the hiring of rude, insulting, or careless patient escorts.

During the meeting, a number of suggestions were made as to how the selection procedure might be improved. Criticisms of the present system were also voiced. The chief supervisor of patient escorts argued that the problem with the hospital’s present system is that the application blank is void of any really useful information. He stated that the questions that really give insights into the employees are no longer on the application blank. He suggested that applicants be asked about their hobbies, outside activities, and their personal likes and dislikes on the application blank.

The head of the staffing section suggested that each applicant be asked to submit three letters of recommendation from people who know the applicant well. He wanted these letters to focus on the prospective employee’s personality, particularly the applicant’s ability to remain friendly and polite at all times.

The human resource manager contended that the hospital’s interviewing procedure should be modified. He observed that during the interview little attempt is made to determine how the applicant reacts under stress. He suggested that if applicants were asked four or five stress-producing questions, the hospital might be in a better position to judge their ability to work with irritable patients.

The assistant human resource director noted that the attribute patient escorts need is always being courteous and polite. She wondered whether a personality test could be developed that would measure the applicant’s traits toward being friendly and helpful. She suggested that the personality traits that are critical to being a successful patient escort be determined and test questions be developed to evaluate these traits.

The test questions could then be administered to the hospital’s existing patient escorts to ascertain whether the personality test accurately distinguishes the best escorts from the worst. She felt that a well-designed personality test might be worth consideration.

Basing on the information provided in the case material and your class learning, submit a written assignment (800~1200 words excluding bibliography) answering all of the following case questions. Answer the questions in the order they are asked and answer each question separately instead of weaving several questions together.

Make use of headings/subheadings wherever appropriate to facilitate the instructor’s reading and understanding of your assignment. No executive summary is necessary. Case Questions:

1. Evaluate each of the alternative approaches as suggested in the case for solving the problem of selecting patient escorts. 2. Recommend a procedure for recruiting and selecting patient escorts, and 3. Propose other actions, besides improving its recruitment and selection procedures, which the hospital could potentially take to improve the behavior of the patient escorts. General Instructions:

• This is an individual assignment (not group assignment). • Your assignment must have a front page bearing your FULL name, student number, the course title, and some kind of class identification (preferably weekday plus start time of your class, e.g., Wed 1130). • Format of assignment: typed, A4 paper, double-spaced, 12 pt Times New Roman font, 1 inch all margins.

• This assignment should be submitted on or before the specified due date to the instructor during class. • This assignment should be submitted in hard copies; do not submit via email or SOUL.

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