Hospital Foundation Nursing Liaison: Interview with Phyllis Turner, RN, MICN, CCRN

My Specialty

Hospital Foundation Nursing Liaison: Interview with Phyllis Turner, RN, MICN, CCRN

By Mariah Williams
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WORKING NURSE: What is your actual title in this nursing specialty, Phyllis?

PHYLLIS TURNER, RN, MICN, CCRN: I am the RN Benefactor Program Coordinator.

How did you find this unique position?
In July of 2005, when Racheal McCabe and Jim Dale from our foundation department gave an information speech at an emergency room staff meeting, Racheal was working with human resources to create this new position in order to benefit our growing benefactor program. The whole concept intrigued me; what would an RN do in the foundation department?!

I applied, was interviewed and was one of the final five nurses invited back for a second interview. I truly think my longevity at Hoag and 27 years of experience in the ER played an important part in them offering me the position. The program is so new that the training has been on-the-job and ongoing.

What was your background and training going into this position?
My initial nurses’ training was in Montreal, Canada, at the Catherine Booth OB/GYN hospital. When I moved to California in 1968 I challenged the LVN board. I was hired in 1970 as an LVN for the ortho/neuro floor (trauma department back then). I was in the first LVN to RN course ever offered in California, at Santa Ana College. I graduated and passed my state boards in 1974. I worked ICU/CCU for seven years before transferring to the ER.

Because this specialty is so new, I think it would help our readers if you explained a little more about the Foundation Program itself before outlining your actual role.
Hoag Memorial Hospital is doing groundbreaking work in the area of foundations, such that other hospitals are beginning to study the paradigm and pattern themselves after it. When a donor makes a contribution above a certain amount financially, he or she—along with family members—qualifies for our benefactor program that offers special services and perks during a hospital stay. These include having access to a nurse liaison (my role) any time they are admitted, special room requests (on availability), a hospital comfort kit, flower delivery, choice of daily newspaper, an embroidered robe, and a gift card to be used for cable television, games, movies and Internet access. It’s a way of saying thank you to these donors whose significant contributions make a major difference for the hospital.

The benefactors do not receive preferential treatment. In other words, the order for treatment in the ER is still based on acuity of the need and patients in the most serious conditions are seen and attended to first. What this service provides for the benefactors is a more comfortable wait, stay, and facilitation of the process in gratitude for all they do for the hospital.

Using my knowledge and nursing experience, I can help with things like pre-registration, discharge, pharmacy interactions, and arranging admissions to the hospital. I take the pressure off the on-duty nurses by ensuring that these benefactors are well looked after.

Does this service end up benefiting the hospital?
Yes. Many of the benefactors speak of their positive experience to others and encourage friends they know who are capable of donating to the hospital to participate in our benefactor program as well. In the long run, it benefits all who are using or working at the hospital.

What does your work include on a daily basis?
My position was created to have a RN on call to meet benefactors and family members in the ER to facilitate emergency visits. That means I carry the benefactor cell phone and am on call from 5 pm to 8 am the following day. I also cover the weekends and holidays. When I receive a call, I meet patients to admit them to the hospital and escort them to have procedures done. Living close to the hospital as I do is almost a necessity for the position! I also handle telephone requests for issues such as the need for a doctor’s appointment, referrals, and help pre-registering patients for admit or necessary procedures. I also sometimes help make arrangements to transfer patients from another facility to our hospital. Anything that might need a medical intervention for one of our benefactors can involve me.

One distinction to make is that I am not the benefactor’s personal nurse and I seek to make that clear to the benefactor right away. The nurses on duty still cover their patients. I serve more in a liaison role to facilitate smooth flow and am a “nursing concierge” of sorts. If the nurses on duty in the ER are exceptionally busy I can do small things for the benefactor to make his or her time of waiting easier and help the nurses out. But I am dressed in business casual attire and a lab coat and in a different capacity than I would be if covering a shift for the ER.

During the day hours the foundation benefactor manager, Emily Thompson, handles benefactor business. While I have been in this position, I have also helped cover daytime benefactors’ requests when asked.

What do you enjoy most about this role?
Having the skill, knowledge, and ability to make a medical emergency as pleasant as possible for our hospital benefactors is very rewarding. I enjoy being available to answer questions, arrange phone calls, confer with the medical staff, and keep the client informed and comfortable. I really enjoy the opportunities I have to visit the benefactors in their hospital rooms, once again assisting with personal requests that will make their hospital stay more comfortable.

Do you run into any unusual situations or challenges?
Yes, I do from time to time. For example, one of our benefactors had his own personal physician who was not on staff at Hoag. The physician was requesting to be present at this benefactor’s surgical procedure. After I made the appropriate phone calls I was able to get approval to allow this unusual request to happen. It can also be challenging sometimes to put myself together appropriately with late night/early morning ER appointments for the benefactors!

What would you say it takes to excel in a nursing role such as this?
You need to really enjoy meeting people and have strong networking skills. In addition, your lifestyle needs to be compatible with the somewhat unusual demands and hours of this job. When those things are in place, the rewards are fantastic!



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