Kemptville District Hospital (KDH) has launched a campaign that hopes to improve the patient experience at every level of the hospital. The campaign, called “The patient experience starts here”, is part of a new patient and family-centred approach that is being adopted in hospitals both nationally and internationally. This new model of care is meant to shift the ideology that the nurse, doctor or technician is doing something to or for a patient, to partnering with the patient to create their treatment and healthcare plan. Patient and family-centred care touches hospital operations at every level, from the front line primary care setting, to the planning, design, delivery, evaluation and improvement of health services.

Jennifer Read, the Communications and Patient Relations Officer at KDH, has been at the forefront of integrating this strategy into the hospital’s operations. She says they are working towards having a bank of patient/family advisors to call on when they are making decisions that will impact the patient experience. This process is already underway, with a patient/family advisor sitting on the committee for the hospital’s upcoming renovation. “They are giving us some really good input,” Jennifer says. “It’s really a no-brainer to ask patients and families to come in to tell us about their thoughts.”

“The patient experience starts here” campaign is unique to KDH and has been getting some great feedback from the Ontario Hospital Association, as well as Kingston General Hospital, which has been a leader in patient and family-centred care for years. The campaign targets all of the hospital staff, reiterating the fact that each one of them has a role to play in the patient experience. Each member of the staff wears a button that says “the patient experience starts here”, and Jennifer and her team have created posters that have been put up throughout the hospital, featuring a member of the staff who plays a role in patient experience. “I keep thinking of even more people we can include in the posters,” Jennifer says. “From the nursing staff to the IT department, each one of them is important.”

While new to KDH, CEO Frank Vassallo also played a role in developing the campaign and is eager to see the impact it will have. He was excited to see it already bearing fruit when the food and nutrition staff took it upon themselves to colour eggs for the patient’s breakfasts and include chocolate on every patient’s tray that could have it at Easter.  He is also pleased to see how eager everyone in the hospital is to wear their buttons. “I think they are all responding to the campaign so well because it is already in their DNA,” Frank says. “KDH is in the top 5% in patient and staff satisfaction in Ontario.”

It is hoped that the campaign will help them to reach their goal of achieving exemplary standing, the highest level of accreditation, when they are accredited in November. The hospital already received exemplary standing last time they were accredited, but, since then, the process has become more rigorous and 350 of 1300 criteria now have to do with patient and family-centred care.

Although there is still a lot to be done before November, both Jennifer and Frank are very optimistic and excited about the direction that the hospital is going. “I never hesitate to leap out of bed in the morning and go to work, because it’s such an exciting job,” Frank says. “We want to be the best small hospital we can be, in conjunction with our community partners.”

Frank says he hopes to start promoting the campaign more in the community to let people know the shift that is being made in their hospital and their pledge to optimize the patient experience. As part of this, Jennifer is in the process of organizing a large version of the poster to be fastened to the exterior brick wall of the hospital. “It’s the metaphor of breaking down walls,” Frank says. “It showcases that this is who we are, this is what we’re about and we’re very proud of it.”


  1. This can only be good. Have you ever sat in the emergency department that is essentially empty, waiting for treatment (non-life threatening, mind you, but unavoidable) while the staff sit around and look at you? It’s as if there is a requisite waiting time, no matter how busy they are. Very frustrating.


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