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There’s nothing quite like arriving at a bustling hotel, bags in hand, your energy worn by travel and immediately hearing the words, “Hello, we’ve been expecting you.” All of a sudden, this new place feels more familiar – the people more welcoming. A deep breath later and a sense of comfort and calm replace any stress or anxiety you may have felt moments before. Could the same be true if you were to step into a hospital instead of hotel? Derrick Jones believes so and he’s investing his own time to find out.

Jones is a busy man. At the helm of Lovelace Rehabilitation Hospital, Jones was recently recognized as CEO of the Year in 2012, while the hospital received the Quality Award the same year, both by parent company Ardent Health Services. The distinctions are more than just awards. They reflect the focus and dedication Jones and his leadership team, along with health care providers at Lovelace Rehabilitation Hospital, have in every facet of patient care that improves their patients’ progress daily. It is the reason Jones is spending less time in his office and more time at the front door.

“It’s been very eye-opening for us,” Jones says of dedicating at least two hours a week manning the front door and greeting patients and visitors as they enter the hospital. His entire leadership team has joined him. “We all have made a commitment,” he says.

Across Lovelace Health System, patients and visitors will be greeted by CEOs, CNOs, CFOs and other members of leadership on any hospital campus they visit. It is a way Lovelace has identified to help ease the stress of entering a hospital, perhaps for the first time. “We don’t just point people in the right direction,” Jones explains. “We walk with them and assist with any questions.”

Being greeted by a CEO is not something most patients and visitors are expecting when they walk through the doors, however. “The biggest impact, when people come in, is the eye contact,” Jones explains. “They are greeted. They see the badge and they feel special they are being greeted by a leader of the organization.”

What may begin with “Where can I find my loved one?” becomes more as Jones has the opportunity to talk with patients and visitors as they walk throughout the hospital. For patients, Jones says, it is a unique situation he would otherwise not have. “I have an opportunity to get to know them a little better – what they’ve been through,” he says. “I try to put them at ease.”

Jones says that one of his goals at Lovelace Rehabilitation Hospital through this program is to be a bridge for patients who are being transferred from other hospitals, including Lovelace Medical Center on the downtown campus. “It is a seamless transition of care, like showing up at a hotel and hearing, ‘We’ve been expecting you,’” he shares.

Being right there as people walk through the front door, Jones adds, allows concerns to be voiced and addressed immediately. “We can rectify concerns in the moment,” he says. “We are getting instant feedback and instantly correcting issues.” Jones says he takes these exchanges back to weekly leadership meetings to identify common issues and improve the program. It is an effort building upon an existing initiative – the Ambassador Program, which gives leadership the opportunity to visit with patients directly on a regular basis.

“So far, we have had very positive results and feedback,” adds Jones. “This is absolutely putting our best foot forward, welcoming them to Lovelace.”

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