A patient advocate? What's that?
Autumn Bishop, LMH Health
Being a patient or having a loved one in the hospital can be a stressful experience. Tests and procedures happen quickly and emotions run high. What do you do if you aren’t getting the information you’d like or you feel that your voice isn’t being heard? Turn to LMH Health’s patient advocate for help.
Mardi Bowlin is the patient safety officer and patient advocate at LMH Health. She works as part of a team to help address patient concerns across the organization.
“Patient advocates often serve as a communication bridge when patients or their families are seeking additional information,” she said. “They may have concerns about care, want to recognize those involved in their care or need additional resources and don’t know where to turn.”
Whether you have questions about the care you’re receiving or you’re having trouble making an appointment or getting a prescription filled, the patient advocate works to help provide answers, resolve your concerns and make your voice heard.
“My first priority is to the patient’s safety,” Bowlin said. “If a patient is calling about a medical issue that needs immediate attention, I handle those first and foremost. I work with the patient to determine what we can do to help resolve their concern.”
Patients aren’t the only people that contact the patient advocate for assistance. Nearly half of the calls that Bowlin receives are from concerned friends, family members or other support persons in a patient’s life. There may be times when the patient advocate can’t discuss the patient or their care with those persons.
“With Lawrence being a college town, I often get calls from parents who are out-of-state and have questions about their child’s visit. I am very transparent about the limitations in releasing details relating to a patient’s care if I don’t have proper authorization,” she said. “We can work together to explore how we can get that authorization or how I can reach out to the patient directly to hear first-hand details about their experience.”
People seeking assistance from the patient advocate can visit lmh.org/contact or email firstname.lastname@example.org to submit feedback related to their experience. They can also be reached at 785-505-3152, though the line is not always staffed, due to the nature of their work.
Advocates may be visiting the hospital floors or clinics, speaking with a patient or providing education for staff. While you may not be able to speak with someone directly, voicemails are returned by the next business day.
“The patient advocate isn’t available 24 hours per day, but LMH Health always has a resource in-house for those patients who are here receiving care,” said Bowlin. “Our house supervisor is amazing at listening and helping to resolve concerns.”
LMH Health encourages patients or their support persons to contact their healthcare team or the patient advocate when they have concerns or simply want to share information about their visit to LMH Health.
“The best part about being an advocate is the people,” said Bowlin. “I have a long-standing relationship with LMH Health as an employee, a patient, family member and as a friend to those who routinely receive care here. I take pride in the organization and know that there are opportunities to better serve those who need care. I love that I’m the one who gets to hear those and carry them forward.”
Autumn Bishop is marketing communications manager for LMH Health.