There are many health care workers who will provide services to both in-patient and out-patient hospital patients. Within the hospital system, these employees are sometimes called ancillary services staff.
Social Work Services
The social work department offers support and assistance to patients and families. Social workers look at the patient's physical, emotional, environmental and spiritual needs, as well as how family members can help in the patient's recovery process. A social worker can also help you or your loved one understand the hospital system. A social worker's primary role is to assist in the discharge planning process by connecting patients with community resources, support groups and other social services that may be needed after discharge from the hospital.
Case Management Services
Case managers are specially-educated nurses who work closely with the patient's primary physician to create an in-hospital treatment plan. They may work with other consultants and help the physician track the patient's progress. The case manager also works with the patient, family members and other members of the treatment team to coordinate a discharge plan.
Utilization Review Services
The utilization review unit of the hospital is responsible for ensuring that the plan of care for each patient is reasonable and medically necessary. Utilization reviewers work with the individual's insurance company to ensure that procedures have been authorized and that the insurance company will pay its part of the bill.
Pastoral Care Services
Most hospitals provide spiritual services and many have a chaplain on duty at all times. The services are generally nondenominational (covering all religions). Your loved one is welcome to have his or her rabbi, priest, minister or imam visit while at the hospital. If you do not have an affiliation with a religious congregation and desire spiritual services, the pastoral office can arrange a visit.
A dietary assistant usually visits each room to provide a menu from which you or your loved one can select meals. In addition, a registered dietician works with the medical staff to ensure that patients receive proper nutrition and that each individual's diet meets any specific needs, based on his or her medical condition. The dietary staff will try, as medically appropriate, to honor additional requests such as for a vegetarian, Kosher, etc. diet. A guest may order a tray for an additional cost. Your dietary assistant can assist you or your loved one if you want to request an additional tray.
Occupational Therapy Services
Occupational therapists are educated to work with patients to increase, maintain or restore their ability to perform everyday tasks, such as eating, cooking, dressing, and bathing. Occupational therapists are important members of the team who become involved in a patient's care after a referral from a physician and insurance company authorization. After an initial evaluation, a plan of treatment is developed to improve independence. Occupational therapists may recommend adaptive equipment that facilitates the patient's ability to achieve independence in activities of daily living (ADLs), for example, special eating tools, grab bars, a bath seat, etc. These services can be provided on an in-patient and/or out-patient basis.
Physical Therapy Services
Physical therapists are educated to help patients improve their muscle strength, coordination and flexibility. A physician must order physical therapy and the insurance company must agree the service is appropriate. After an initial evaluation, a treatment plan is developed with the goal to improve the patient's independence in activities of daily living (ADLs). Adaptive equipment such as canes or walkers may be recommended. Services are provided on an in-patient and/or out-patient basis.
Speech Therapy Services
Speech therapists are educated to evaluate and develop a plan of treatment to improve a patient's ability to understand language, express language, and improve the ability to control and coordinate the muscles used for speech. They also work with patients who are experiencing swallowing disorders, such as individuals with Parkinson's disease or those who have recently had a stroke. The services of speech therapists must be ordered by a physician and authorized by the insurance company. Service is provided on an in-patient and/or out-patient basis.
Hospitals provide escort services to take patients from one part of the hospital to another. In addition, hospitals may assist individuals in setting up transportation to home or other facilities. Some hospitals may assist individuals in arranging transportation to clinic appointments.
Educational Classes/Support Groups
Hospitals provide a variety of classes aimed at preventing disease and promoting better health. Some classes address specific services or programs offered by the hospital. Hospitals may be sites for support groups addressing various diseases or medical conditions such as Parkinson's disease or depression. Grief counseling groups may be available. Many hospitals also provide support groups for caregivers. Some groups may be provided to patients and families on an in-patient basis; however, most groups are provided in an out-patient setting.
In the hospital, volunteers provide many services to help patients, family members and staff. They may also perform tasks related to fund-raising for the hospital. Volunteers are essential to achieving the overall mission of the hospital.
Patient Services (Patient Representatives)
The patient services worker is an advocate for your loved one during the hospital stay. If you have a concern about the hospital stay, contact the patient service worker.
The Financial Services Representatives provide assistance in applying for Medical Assistance and verifying insurance coverage. They also prepare the bill for services rendered at the hospital.
Each hospital has a multidisciplinary committee of health and ethics professionals to assist patients and relatives in dealing with difficult treatment decisions. If you are struggling with an ethical issue, such as removing life support or deciding if your loved one should get a feeding tube, you can request to have the matter presented to the ethics committee. You may contact them by speaking with your loved one's nurse or social worker.