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OSH staff improve patient care, save money

OSH staff save money
Tod Burk, a patient at Oregon State Hospital's Portland campus, has his teeth cleaned by a dental hygienist at the office of Wayne Mori, D.M.D. Portland's patients recently began seeing Mori after the hospital's transportation staff proposed the idea of using a local dentist instead of driving patients several times a week to the hospital's dental clinic in Salem.

The art of public service is doing what is best for your clients while being as efficient as possible. Recently, transportation staff at Oregon State Hospital's Portland (POSH) campus took this art to the next level with a common sense solution that has both improved patient care and saved time and money.

Although more than 50 miles from the hospital's main campus in Salem, Portland's staff rely on the larger campus for a variety of medical services, such as dermatology, eye exams and, most frequently, dental appointments.

"We were driving to Salem three or four times a week just for the dental clinic," said Marie Watson, a transportation mental health aid. "Between driving and the actual appointment, these trips would take up half a day just to get one person to the dentist."

Not only were the long trips a burden for the hospital's staff, but they could be difficult for the patients as well. Some patients had trouble riding in a car for more than an hour. Others were so anxious after spending the trip thinking about their appointment that they changed their minds once they got to Salem. However, in many cases, patients did not want to make the trip, not because they didn't want to see the dentist, but because they didn't want to miss out on treatment activities.

"It would take up the whole afternoon, which meant I missed treatment mall for that day," patient Chloe Cloud said. "I mean, would you rather go to group or to the dentist?"

Bob Spinouzza, POSH's Transportation and Security manager, said not wanting to miss treatment groups was the number one reason patients would refuse to go to their appointments. With both patient and staff concerns in mind, Spinouzza proposed a simple solution to save time and money: Let's take POSH's patients to a Portland dentist.

Spinouzza and his staff presented hospital leadership with an analysis of every trip they had made to Salem during the preceding three months. After taking into account the number of staff required for each trip, the frequency patients changed their minds about their appointment and the maintenance costs for the hospital's vehicle, Spinouzza was given the green light to find a local dentist.

Now POSH's patients travel less than a half-mile to the office of Wayne Mori, D.M.D. for their dental care. The easy access to his office has meant more patients are getting in for dental care, while spending less time away from the hospital and their treatment.

"When we were going to Salem, we could do one appointment a day," Watson said. "Now, we've had days when we've gotten three or four patients to the dentist. It's fast, efficient and we're getting more people to the dentist with fewer people having to miss their treatment."