HOPE Ambassador Program: Celebrating two years and expanding services

January 21, 2020  //  FOUND IN: Michigan Medicine News,
A group of HOPE Ambassadors.

Two years ago, volunteers wearing cheerful yellow vests began walking the halls of Michigan Medicine hospitals. Their mission: helping patients and families find their way to appointments or to visit family members. This was the official launch of the HOPE Ambassador program, coordinated by the Office of Patient Experience.

Now the program has more than 120 volunteers and helped more than 80,000 patients and families in 2019. 

“I encountered people who were very nice and very lost and others who were just trying to find their car,” said one HOPE Ambassador. “I loved that the patients were friendly and approachable even when they were sick and lost in this big place.”

Often, patients are stressed and confused by the complex network of halls, elevators and floors within the main academic medical center. That’s where the ambassadors step in — many of whom speak multiple languages (among the volunteers are individuals who speak 13 different languages).

“It was so helpful to have someone guiding us out of the hospital. This support made my last impression so positive and comforting. We couldn’t have done it without the help of the ambassador,” stated a patient on one of the feedback cards provided by the ambassadors.

An ambassador assists with wayfinding.

A growing program

The program — with a name that comes from an acronym for “Helping Our Patients Everyday” — has now expanded to the Brighton Center for Specialty Care. BCSC is one of the largest outpatient facilities at Michigan Medicine and it now has five volunteers working a weekly shift during peak hours. 

“We’re very fortunate to have the HOPE Ambassador program at BCSC,” said Gwendolyn Young, coordinator at BCSC. “Our ambassadors wear their vests proudly and greet our patients and visitors with a warm, friendly and welcoming smile. Patients and families truly appreciate their presence.”

The ambassadors are just one way the organization is looking to improve the patient experience at BCSC. Currently, there is also a pilot underway at the facility to study the feasibility of implementing wayfinding technology. A team of staff members from Brighton, Health Information Technology & Services and OPE, along with patient advisors are working on a request for proposals from vendors. 

The technology will be an additional tool that patients and families can use to easily find their clinic locations. The hope is to bring the technology to the main hospital and other clinic sites in the future. 

Ambassadors are stationed around the academic medical center and BCSC.

How you can help

In addition to BCSC, the HOPE Ambassador program will be expanding to East Ann Arbor Health Center in the near future. The team is currently reviewing current needs with clinic leadership and recruiting for volunteers.

Are you interested in volunteering in the main hospital, Brighton or East Ann Arbor? If so, contact the HOPE Ambassador program.

The program is open to members of the community and all employees and students of U-M and Michigan Medicine. If you are an employee, the current requirement is two volunteer hours per month with approval from your immediate supervisor.

Click here for more information about HOPE Ambassador Program and the Office of Patient Experience.

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