Golf cart “limo” makes it easy for patients and visiting family and friends to get to and from the Columbus Regional Healthcare System’s hospital
Thanks to a generous donation from the Columbus Regional Healthcare System (CRHS) Volunteer Auxiliary, the hospital now has a new courtesy golf cart “limo” that shuttles patients, family members and visitors between the parking lot and the hospital. The golf cart, which can accommodate one driver and five passengers, shuttles an average of 95 to 100 passengers each day to and from the hospital.
The shuttle service is offered from 7:30a.m. until 3:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 7:30a.m. until 3p.m. on Fridays.
There’s one primary driver – a member of the hospital’s security staff, said Jeremy Jernigan, CRHS security supervisor. But there are other drivers available to fill in when the need arises.
Patient Access Director Sherry Beck first conceived of the idea of a shuttle service for patients five years ago “Patient Access is in a busy, high-traffic area,” Beck said of her department. “We are upfront with the public; we observe and listen to the customer.
There have been numerous times a patient will pull up under the shelter and blow the horn for us to go out to aid them inside. We have had customers call the switchboard operator to transfer them to our department and ask someone to go to the parking lot to assist them to the building.” The need was clear.
“Some patients are on oxygen, some have undergone knee or hip surgery [or] have problems with their feet [or] walk with the aid of walkers and canes,” she added. “I knew there was something CRHS could do to help. To me, excellence begins when the customer drives into the parking lot.”
The shuttle operation involves an officer monitoring the parking lot for incoming cars – and the hospital doors for signs of people leaving. “The officer watches the lots for vehicles entering the parking lot and persons exiting the building,” explains Jernigan. “Then, they drive up to offer a ride.”
The security officer makes rounds to each side of the facility every 15 to 20 minutes. The officer also carries a hospital phone. If a department has a patient requesting assistance to his or her vehicle, they dial the number, and the officer arrives promptly. “We want to ensure we do not miss a need,” Beck said. “If the officer is on one side of the building and receives a call from the other side, he will be there promptly. When one officer takes lunch, another officer keeps the shuttle service running.”
Shauna Treadaway, volunteer coordinator, said purchasing the “limo” (as the group affectionately calls their shuttle) was a group decision made by the 31 volunteer members of the CRHS Auxiliary after seeing Beck’s and Jernigan’s proposal.
The Auxiliary is crucial to the hospital, Treadaway said. Previous purchases made possible for the Auxiliary’s generosity include wireless scanners used on the nursing units, cardiac rehab equipment and a bone density machine in the imaging department.
Customer response has been overwhelmingly positive. “Customers love the courtesy shuttle service,” Beck said. “The officer and our staff receive daily feedback. Not only do they receive a courtesy shuttle service to and from the building, if needed, they are greeted with a warm welcome and friendly smile from our security officer. We have constant, secure eyes on our parking lots and customers.”
“The courtesy shuttle is doing more than transporting people,” she added. “It is a visible source of security for our organization, and it represents an option for those in need.”
Beck notes that part of the hospital’s mission is the overall health and well-being of the region’s population. Those who want to walk for exercise are encouraged to.
“Columbus Regional is on a mission to promote health and wellness,” she said. The courtesy shuttle isn’t intended to dissuade folks from walking. “We offer the courtesy shuttle for the population that is disabled or requires assistance. There are people who pass up the offer to ride, and we are more than fine with that. For those who need the assistance, we have it available.”