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Patient Transport Team Goes the Extra Mile as Ambassadors

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November 3-9 is National Patient Transportation Week, which recognizes the dedicated workers who get patients and guests from point A to point B. It’s an opportunity to salute UAB Medicine’s patient transport team, which is part of Guest and Hospitality Services.

It’s been said that the patient transport staff are the “wheels” of a health care organization, but considering that most of the mobility is people-powered, the transport team might be better described as the hospital’s legs. That’s certainly true at UAB Medicine, where our transport team averages 900 trips per day.

The team’s primary job is to get patients and guests where they need to be on time, but patient transporters have many other roles. They act as a courier service for blood, pick up and deliver specimens for the lab at The Kirklin Clinic of UAB Hospital (TKC), transport oxygen tanks, deliver petitions to the Jefferson County Courthouse for UAB Psychiatry, and provide shuttle services three days a week to and from the UAB Russell Clinic and the TKC Radiology Clinic. The transport team also assists with patient flow by moving patients from the Emergency Department to unit-specific hallways.

Trip volume and the number of discharges handled by patient transport saw significant growth in the past two years, yet the team still averages just under 42 minutes from a transport request to a completed trip. In May 2019 alone, patient transport logged 27,035 trips – an average of 872 per day.

UAB Medicine Guest and Hospitality Services Manager Donita White says the patient transport team fulfills another crucial role as ambassadors for the organization. When patient transport staff members talk about going the extra mile, it’s not just a reference to distance.

“Our staff can make or break a patient’s experience,” White says. “We are often the first and the last face they see, or voice they hear, during their hospital visit. If we can offer a reassuring word or give them confidence that they are in good hands, then a patient who may already be anxious can have a more pleasant experience here. Our mission is to transport patients and guests safely and efficiently throughout UAB Medicine. But part of that is making their visit a little more positive.”

UAB Medicine Guest and Hospitality Services is here to assist with transportation needs throughout the hospital and medical campus. Anyone who needs a wheelchair or an escort should call *55 from any hospital telephone. To reach Guest and Hospitality Services from outside the hospital, please dial 205-934-CARE (2273).