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Autism-Friendly Emergency Department Improves Patient Satisfaction

Posted on Tue, Nov 03, 2015
Autism-Friendly Emergency Department Improves Patient Satisfaction

By Fareed Nabiel Fareed, MD, FACEP
 
Patients with autism react and communicate differently, requiring a specialized approach to create a safe and supportive environment – especially in emergency situations.
 
Recognizing this, in April 2014, we worked with EmCare Partners Group to develop a program to provide an “autism-friendly” experience in the emergency department (ED) at HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley’s Broadway Campus (HAHV).
 
The program uses iPads with autism-specific apps that help our staff communicate with patients with autism and verbally impaired patients. The devices help medical providers learn the reason the patient has arrived for care; the patient’s pain and discomfort level; and his or her communication preferences. It also enables our staff to better explain what the patient can expect during his or her visit to alleviate fear and confusion. Sensory boxes provide objects with a variety of textures to enable autistic patients to self-soothe and better deal with stress.
 
The program also involved comprehensive education regarding special considerations in the care of ED patients with autism for our staff and pre-hospital personnel.
 
The hospital’s administration embraced this initiative whole-heartedly, and it’s great to see how this effort is truly improving the care experience. We’ve seen a significant increase in patient satisfaction scores, especially in 2015. We attribute it to a greater emphasis on the patient experience and customer service, of which the autism-friendly ED initiative is a part.
 
Meghan Goodnow, lead clinical technician in HealthAlliance’s ED, said the education and tools provided through the new program enabled her to quickly assess and calm an agitated patient – and provide peace of mind to his parents.
 
“A young boy with autism was yelling and crying very loudly when he came into the ED with burns on his fingers. I brought the iPad over to him, and we sat together and quickly navigated through the screens,” explained Goodnow. “He was much happier communicating using the iPad, and I could see the look of relief on his parents’ faces as the child relaxed and found a way to explain his pain.”
 
Goodnow also offered the boy the opportunity to select an item from the sensory box. Noting that he chose a squishy item, she made his ice packs “extra squishy” so they were more appealing to the young patient.
 
“When they were leaving, the patient’s mother said that she was very impressed with our staff’s patience and understanding toward their son. She said she was thankful to have a group of people willing to take the time to make her son feel special and to attempt to understand and communicate with him. She was planning to tell other local parents about our new service,” said Goodnow.
 
A young, non-verbal patient also found comfort by using a toy from the sensory box.
 
“The young man’s caregiver said that he probably wouldn’t be able to use the iPad but that the patient liked toys that made noise,” explained Pamela Ausanio, RN. “I offered him a pinwheel that moved and made a sound at the same time. The patient blew on the pinwheel during the evaluation, distracting him and easing the stress that can be associated with a physical exam. The young man’s caregiver was impressed with our attentiveness to his client’s disability. As the community becomes more aware of our services for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder, I think we’ll see an increase in visits from patients with autism.”
 
As clinicians and leaders, it’s important to recognize how our patient populations are changing – and evolve to meet those changes. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished and I look forward to seeing the program expand.


 
Fareed N. Fareed, MD, FACEP, Medical Director of the Emergency Department at HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley. Dr. Fareed graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University with a bachelor's degree in biochemical sciences. He obtained his medical degree at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He completed an emergency medicine residency program at New York University/Bellevue Hospital Center. He was director of Columbia University's research associates program at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, was a faculty member for NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital's emergency medicine residency program, and was assistant professor at Columbia University. Dr. Fareed is a diplomate of the American Board of Emergency Medicine and a fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians.
 

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Featured Recruiter: Tara Gorombey

Posted on Mon, Sep 28, 2015
Featured Recruiter: Tara Gorombey

Each month, we will feature a Q&A with one of our recruiters.

Name:  Tara Gorombey
Position:  Advanced Practice Provider Recruiter
Division: EmCare Partners Group
Location: Parsippany, N.J.

Education:  Bachelor of Science

Years with EmCare:  I've been with EmCare for 6 months, but I've been with Emergency Medical Associates (EMA) for 2 years (EMA was acquired by EmCare in February 2015).

Years in the recruiting field? 13 years.

Why did you decide to become a recruiter? My first job was working as an administrative assistant for a staffing agency. I was promoted and began sourcing and doing junior recruiting.

How does your experience enable you to connect candidates with the right positions? After recruiting for several years, I’m able to read people. I now can tell which candidates and interested in a position and which ones are passive and less committed.

Describe one of your greatest professional accomplishments. I worked full-time while going to school at night for three years.

Describe your ideal candidate. I look for a candidate who’s clinically strong but has a personality that will fit with the ED team they will be working with.

How important is the “relationship” between recruiter and candidate? It’s very important. You both need to understand each other and communicate well.

What do you enjoy outside of work? I like to go to concerts with my son.  I also collect vintage mid-century modern items.

What’s your favorite inspirational quote? “Don’t walk behind me I may not lead, don’t walk in front to me I may not follow.  Walk beside me and be my friend.”

What qualities make a successful recruiter? A successful recruiter should have emotional intelligence and be able to relate to his or her candidates. You also need to understand the industry you’re recruiting for.

Can you give an example of something a candidate has done that really impressed you during the recruiting process?  I’ve had a few candidates that turned the tables on me during the interview and asked questions about me and the company.  I find that candidates who have a lot of questions seem to be a lot more career-focused than those who only ask one or two questions.

What are a few of your go-to questions during an interview?

  • How did you hear about us?
  • Why did you want to become an APP?
  • Why did you choose emergency medicine?

How should a candidate follow up after an interview with you? Always send a thank you email.

Where do you look for candidates, both in-person and online? Do you use social media? I use LinkedIn, Indeed, DocCafe and HealtheCareers.

How would your co-workers describe you? Hardworking and funny.

If you could have dinner with anyone, living or historical, who would you choose and why? Morgan Freeman because I respect him as a person and as an actor.  

What’s the most interesting place that you’ve been? At a concert standing next to David Bowie!

What was the last book you read? “American Gods” by Neil Gaiman

What personal accomplishment are you most proud of? Being an awesome mother!
 

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Featured Recruiter: Jim Davis

Posted on Mon, Aug 24, 2015
Featured Recruiter: Jim Davis

Each month, we will feature a Q&A with one of our recruiters.

Name: Jim Davis
Position: Physician Recruiter
Division: EmCare Partners Group
Location: Parsippany, N.J.
 

Education: Bachelor of Science in Business

Years with EmCare: I've been with EmCare for 6 months, but I've been with Emergency Medical Associates (EMA) for 5½ years (EMA was acquired by EmCare in February 2015)

Years in the recruiting field? 16

Why did you decide to become a recruiter? I met the owner of an emergency medicine staffing company and he thought I had the right personality for recruiting EM physicians.

How does your experience enable you to connect candidates with the right positions? I like to listen to what the candidate wants in an opportunity, and I know my hospital sites well. This helps me match the right site with the right candidate. By treating each candidate well, they will remember me even if they don’t accept the position. They may return down the road and will definitely refer colleagues to me.

What do you enjoy outside of work? I enjoy coaching my sons (10 and 11) in both baseball and basketball.

What qualities make a successful recruiter?
 

  1. Professionalism
  2. The ability to build and maintain long-lasting relationships
  3. The ability to remain calm and focused during stressful times.


Why should physicians and advanced practice providers join EmCare? If a physician is looking for a group that offers options for the future, EmCare is the perfect place to work. These options could be other geographic locations or moving into a leadership role.

What should residents do now to prepare themselves for future hiring opportunities? Residents should network all the time. They should not avoid recruiters; they should engage with them and learn what opportunities exist and the timeframe they should follow.

Can you give an example of something a candidate has done that really impressed you during the recruiting process? A recent candidate learned what each EM group was offering and negotiated a deal with our division more than two years before he finished his residency based on that knowledge. First, he impressed our leadership with his interpersonal and interviewing skills. Then he received stellar references. Once we decided we wanted to hire him, we gladly matched the offer from the other group.

How should a candidate follow up after an interview with you? A candidate should e-mail or call me with their thoughts on the discussion as well as ask additional questions. If they are interested, they should provide convenient dates to interview at the hospitals of interest.

Where do you look for candidates, both in-person and online? I use LinkedIn, Twitter, Doximity, Practice Match, Doc Café and EDPhysician to find candidates online. I also attend industry conferences like ACEP and ACOEP and hold networking dinners and events for residents.

How would your co-workers describe you? I believe they would say I’m outgoing, fun to be around, and genuine…hopefully they say that!

If you could have dinner with anyone, living or historical, who would you choose and why? I would have dinner with Martin Luther King, Jr. I believe he is one of the most important people who has ever walked the earth. He has made the world a better place for ALL people.

What’s the most interesting place that you’ve been? Paris, during high school.

What’s your favorite health or medical TV show? Forensic Files

What personal accomplishment are you most proud of? Finishing my undergraduate degree by going back to school full time after having a family and a successful career.

Jim Davis can be contacted at 973-251-1077 or by email.

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