A Nurse’s Tale: Patient Transport

For over 12 years, I have been privileged to spend my life with a nurse. Over this time, I have had a front row seat to the highs and lows my wife has experienced as a caregiver. Many who are acquainted with me know the conviction I have for the importance of nurses in healthcare. And if you have ever spent any amount of time in a hospital, you quickly learn that nurses are the backbone of the operation and are crucial to upholding a nurturing and efficient environment of care.

The key to maintaining optimal care in a hospital is ensuring that nurses are able to dedicate their time where they are most needed and where their unique skills are best utilized. Inefficiencies arise when nurses are diverted from pressing tasks that demand their specialized training to other time-consuming assignments that don’t take advantage of their skill set. My wife has frequently mentioned that patient transport is one of the burdensome duties that often falls on nurses’ shoulders.

Patient Transport Duties

There are many different versions of patient transport within the hospital setting. I will be focusing specifically on transporting discharged patients, which involves assisting them with gathering all of their belongings and accompanying them to the front door for their ride home. The occasional requirement for a nurse to be involved in this type of transport is burdensome due to the rather significant time commitment this task demands.

To get a better idea of the effort involved in the discharge process, let’s look at it from a nurse’s point of view.

The nurse brings the discharge paperwork to the patient and goes over the at-home care requirements.
If the patient is immobile, the nurse orders a wheelchair.
Now, if the patient has been in the hospital for a number of days, it is highly likely they have accumulated various items along the way — things like clothes, toiletries, flowers, balloons, and medical equipment. The nurse must now scrounge up a cart to move these items.
After the grueling process of simply preparing to depart the hospital room, the nurse (who barely has a moment to spare in the day) must coordinate with another nurse to monitor their pager and patients while they begin the journey with the wheelchair/cart across campus with the patient.
The result is that nurses are removed from the epicenter of care for an extended period, which may jeopardize the overall patient experience or even general patient welfare.

Patient Transport Troubles

Now you may be thinking, “Don’t many hospitals have an internal patient transport team?” This is correct; however, in my many discussions with my wife on this issue, her experience as a tenured nurse has been that often times patient transport team members are either not available, understaffed, or simply missing in action. When efficiency of patient transport is compromised for whatever reason, negative consequences abound, including:

  • Delays in freeing up rooms for new patients
  • Reduced patient satisfaction as those being discharged must wait for assistance

But does relying on nurses for patient transport make sense? Does it help fulfill hospital objectives?

Hospitals provide professional medical care that improves patients’ quality of life. However, it is also incumbent upon hospital administrators to ensure an environment that creates a positive patient experience so that when professional care is needed again, the patient returns to the same hospital. I contend that making our nurses more stressed than they already are by adding patient transport to their list of duties will certainly not help hospitals achieve their goals and many even hinder their efforts.

Patient Transport Solutions

So what, then, is the solution to these patient transport woes? A new trend that has emerged is outsourcing patient transport to your parking management provider. Parking providers should be expected to function in a higher capacity than simply moving cars around, and hospitals that don’t currently outsource their parking operations might find the idea more attractive if they are able to depend on the parking team for efficient, empathetic patient transport as well.

Let’s be real here, the best way to make the patient leaving the hospital and the patient arriving at the hospital happy is to free up a clean room as quickly as possible. By outsourcing the responsibility for patient transport to your parking management provider, you are using highly trained staff who are specialized in patient empathy, curbside service, and transportation without sacrificing your most important assets: nurses.

By tasking the parking provider with the responsibility for patient transport, you have now improved nurses’ satisfaction with their job and their ability to care for patients as well as enhanced the overall patient experience. If a hospital can make taking care of patients and the nurses responsible for their daily care the top priority, profitability is assured.

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