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FirstHealth of the Carolinas
Hospitality Services

Finding rest for the weary

When a nurse notices members of a patient’s family spending all of their waking—and even sleeping—hours camped out in the waiting room, she may refer that family to Pastoral Care for assistance. After assessing whether the family members are just trying to remain close to their loved one or whether they are truly in need and can’t afford a hotel, Pastoral Care determines how it can help.

One way is through the Hospitality Services Lodging Program. “We have partnered with local hotels that are giving us discounted lodging for families of a patient in the hospital,” says Rebecca Ainslie, director of Hospitality Services for the Foundation of FirstHealth. “Currently, we are working with the four hotels that are in the closest proximity to Moore Regional Hospital.”

Funding comes from the Foundation of FirstHealth. During the first nine months of 2008, about 40 families were assisted, a service that amounted to about $6,300 in funding. “This is just a part of our goal of helping patients and their families when the need arises,” Ainslie says.

Pastoral Care: Spiritual care and support

FirstHealth’s core purpose is to care for people, which often means providing good spiritual support in addition to good medical care.

When the need arises, FirstHealth’s professional and volunteer chaplains are available to help people navigate the various crises of hospitalization, sometimes providing practical solutions for particular situations. An example of that is the Pastoral Care Department’s Guest Meal Program, which provides vouchers for meals in the hospital cafeteria. The program is funded by the Moore Regional Hospital Foundation.

Dr. Beverly Jessup, director of Pastoral Care, particularly recalls one family in need. The couple had premature twins who were in Moore Regional Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for several weeks.

“Since the twins were hospitalized for a considerable time, these parents would come by the office to share the stress of their particular situation, the pressure of maintaining a work schedule while dealing with some afterbirth medical issues that Mom had encountered,” Jessup says.

“They would pop down in the office for a few minutes of respite, taking time from the demands of making adjustments to their lives while trying to anticipate what the future held. They would give us regular updates on how the twins were improving when they came by to get the vouchers that helped with their food expenses. At the same time, we were able to provide prayer support and pastoral counseling that helped calm their fears and uncertainties.”

According to Jessup, pastoral care is an important service for all three FirstHealth hospitals and all have pastoral care programs.

On the horizon...Hospitality House

Families of patients at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital will have a place of rest, respite and even research with the opening of the new Hospitality House.

“This will be a home for FirstHealth Hospitality Services, a centralized location with temporary lodging for patients and their families, patient advocacy programs and a place where patients and families can come and find general health information as they navigate hospital services,” says Vivian Harrington, vice president of Community Services.

A portion of the Foundation of FirstHealth’s $30 million Stepping Stones Campaign has been allocated to build the Hospitality House, and construction on the approximately 20,000 square-foot building is targeted for summer 2009.

“The plans include eight guest rooms, two suites that can be made into four additional guest rooms, a kitchen, a dining room, laundry facilities, quiet areas and a library with computer access as well as space for support groups or private meetings with health counselors,” Harrington says.

Room at the house, which is not limited to financial considerations, will allow patients or family members to leave the clinical setting and relax in the comfort of a home-like environment depending on their needs and personal situation. Families will be asked to make a small donation—in the range of $25 to $30—to stay at the house overnight.

There will also be access to a day room that could be used, for example, by a patient who has come to the hospital for treatment but needs a place to rest before returning home or to another appointment at the hospital.

The FirstHealth Hospitality House will differ from others in North Carolina by having an area for patient advocacy. “It’s a place for patients to come for help in navigating the system,” says Harrington.

“They can meet with a patient navigator to sit down and discuss their particular situation or find out where to go get more help—whether it’s financial or for assistance with medical services.”

“It’s just really exciting, and it’s something people in the community have worked on for many years with a lot of time and thought given to it,” Harrington says. “It’s just another way for FirstHealth to branch out and take care of its people.”