Free Orthopedic Care for Children Outweighs PandemicBy Andrea Villar | Fri, 01/29/2021 - 13:31
Q: Press Ganey has recognized Shriners Hospitals for Children Mexico with the patient experience award. What made this possible?
A: We received this honor due to our hospitals’ performance, with a satisfaction rating of over 95 percent. We take great pride in achieving this. We work for families and children every day and our efforts are aimed at them. We always say that what we do or do not do will always have an impact on them. That said, we have worked hard to reinforce our processes, from when our patients arrive to when they leave so their entire experience is memorable. Thanks to the efforts of everyone at Shriners, we were able to win this award for the second year running.
Among the processes we reinforced to win this award was communication with all our patients. We have worked to be empathetic, thinking of our patients as though they were our family and our children. We work to ensure that every aspect of our patients' experience is covered by focusing on communication, wait times, well-administered medications and nutritious meals, while ensuring that the staff does their best in every area.
We have even worked on improvements that allow our children to have fun at the hospital. We do not want our children to stop being children when they are here. There is an idea that being in a hospital implies being isolated. We have created new entertainment programs so children can enjoy their time here.
Q: Why did Shriners Hospitals for Children decide to bring its pediatric offering to Mexico?
A: In Mexico, there is no other pediatric orthopedic hospital that provides care the way we do. Shriners Hospitals for Children is the best pediatric orthopedic center in the country. Also, the care we provide to our children is free of charge, regardless of the families' payment capacity. It is about serving without expecting anything in return. We do not bill a single peso. Everything children from 0 to 18 years old need, be it surgery or rehabilitation, is completely free.
Q: How do your treatments contribute to children’s health in the country?
A: Treatment and progress depend not only on the work of our medical staff but also on the care and follow-up that families can provide to their children. Sometimes, we are faced with situations where the treatment in the hospital is successful but the follow-up at home does not meet expectations. This can generate unwanted situations with the patient. The training and capacity of our medical staff and the timely follow-up of patients outside the hospital are the pillars of successful treatment.
Q: What are the most important challenges in Mexico for Shriners Hospitals for Children to continue developing its pediatric service?
A: Shriners Hospitals exists because of the donations from thousands of people around the world. The crisis we are going through and the impact it will have on the economy will definitely lead to challenges to overcome. Being good stewards of resources will be key to providing the care that children need and expect from us.
In the long term, one of our permanent goals is to reach more children. As long as we have the funds to continue our mission, we will not stop trying to care for more people. Seventy-eight percent of the patients we serve come from Mexico City and its surrounding areas. We plan to form alliances with other groups or health systems that will allow us to expand. We have already identified areas of opportunity in the country to reach more children.
Q: The hospital also carries out internal research. How has this contributed to better care provision within your facilities?
A: So far, this is only available in the US. In Mexico, one of our plans for 2020 was to initiate these research projects. However, the pandemic postponed these plans to 2021. These types of projects help us to identify how best to help our patients and make better decisions regarding their treatment. Many medical conditions are related to genetic issues, for example.
Q: With the COVID-19 pandemic, how did the hospital maintain treatment continuity?
A: This has been the biggest challenge since the pandemic hit. In June, we began committing patients to semi-isolated areas and, without exception, we test them for COVID-19. We also could not let patients or their families leave the hospital while the results were being processed. At that time, the results took up to 36 hours. Our areas, therefore, were very limited to attend patients. These were months of trial and error to find the best way to handle the situation. We are now performing close to 500 surgeries per month, close to what we were doing before the pandemic.
There is still a great deal of uncertainty. We do not know what will happen tomorrow and every day new challenges arise, but we see them as opportunities.
Q: What lessons will you take with you from 2020?
A: Teamwork is a powerful force in the face of adversity. It is important to focus on solutions rather than problems. Problems are opportunities that take us out of our comfort zone, which in turn will lead us to the success we seek. We should not be afraid or worried about coming challenges but rather embrace them to learn from them and come out stronger.
Shriners Hospitals for Children is a network of hospitals in the US, Canada and Mexico. The hospital provides free advanced care for children with orthopedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries and cleft lip and palate.