Patients benefit from volunteer patient companion program

Patients benefit from volunteer patient companion program


Falls are a growing problem for hospitals nationwide. Each year, an estimated 700,000 hospital patients tumble to the floor and hurt themselves trying to get out of bed or walk to the bathroom.

Brian Buchmann, BSN, MBA, director of Huntsville Hospital’s Family Practice Unit, came up with a creative way to reverse that trend in his department.

Buchmann wondered what would happen if hospital volunteers sat with patients who are at high risk of falling. He contacted Huntsville Hospital Director of Volunteer Services Pat Legg, who lined up about 30 dedicated “patient companions” to test the theory. Each volunteer spends three hours a week with his or her assigned patient, providing conversation and friendship and helping with simple tasks.

Before the program launched Feb. 1, the Family Practice Unit averaged 4.3 patient falls per month. That number has been cut almost in half, and no falls have occurred with a patient companion present.

“It’s been a great success,” said Legg. “It has certainly helped improve the overall patient experience.”

She hopes to expand the program to other medical units at Huntsville Hospital. If you are interested in becoming a patient companion, call Volunteer Services at (256) 265-8013.