WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. – As a nurse, Barbara Tufano’s first priority has always been her patients. Now, as the Director of Patient Relations at Putnam Hospital Center in Carmel, Tufano’s focus extends to communicating with patients, families and hospital staff.
Tufano became the first Director of Patient Relations at PHC, an affiliate of Health Quest, in 2003. She works to develop and maintain a dialogue between everyone involved in a patient's stay.
“My primary responsibility involves fostering service excellence throughout the hospital.’’ Tufano said. “It ties hand-in-hand with patient satisfaction.”
Feedback and inquiries for Tufano come via conversations, letters and the hospital's website. She has even received messages from potential patients overseas who are considering using PHC for their health care.
“We’ve received a lot more inquiries from the community in various ways,’’ she said. “We always want to be able to answer patients’ questions. We want to be able to help people through the healthcare system.”
The challenge Tufano frequently finds is determining where communication breakdowns occur and how to remedy them.
“It all comes down to communication,’’ she said. “It could be people not communicating effectively to the patient or the family. It could be a lack of communication, or the way something was communicated. We always tell our staff to picture each patient as their mother or father in that bed. How would you want them to be treated? We want them to be treated like they're family and to deliver care at an excellent level.”
Tufano is assisted by Clinical Support Coordinator Eileen Courtien. And although Tufano’s background is clinical, she polished her communication skills when she worked as the Director of Case Management at a facility in Queens before coming to PHC.
“The management team back then was put through customer service training by the Marriott Hotel Services,’’ she said. “Our owners at the time saw the difference in how the Marriott management team worked with the staff. It was a six week training course. I learned a lot back then and have used those lessons over the years.”
Tufano started at Putnam Hospital Center in 1996 and remains a nurse at heart. While her primary duties may have changed, her mission has not: to help patients feel better.
“I like working in the hospital setting,’’ she said. “I love the family and patient contact. Between nursing and case management, this job was the right fit. I could use all of those skills to work with patients and families, and I love working with the staff here. We’re all committed to the same goals.”