Ronda Taylor and Yvonne Curling look over the list of new patients on the sixth floor that Curling needs to visit. She introduces Best Upon Request, the concierge service, and asks if they need anything. Requests range from a cold beer (that wasn’t granted) to Curling bringing her laptop to a room and spending a couple hours helping the couple sign up for disability insurance.
Henry Ford Allegiances offers concierge service to patients and employees
By Monetta Harr
When Karen Fletcher was admitted to Henry Ford Allegiance Health, she was surprised when she was greeted by a woman from the concierge service.
“I thought that was really nice, a great service to offer,” said Fletcher, 69, of Jackson. Because she wanted an activity to move her hands and fingers, she chose an adult coloring book and crayons.
“I haven’t colored in years,” she laughed.
Fletcher is among about 75 patients on the sixth floor who are visited by Best Upon Request, a concierge service the hospital contracted for patients in January. The service has been running errands for employees since 2003, now with two full time and one part timer employees. There is no charge for patients and employees only pay a millage fee.
The service provides everything from taking vehicles for an oil change to buying a bouquet of pink balloons for an employee’s daughter’s birthday party. Last December they went to several employees’ homes and wrapped Christmas gifts. It was so appreciated that those employees – and others – immediately booked the service to do the same thing next month.
“It sounded almost too good to be true, maybe something for executives or people who had a higher level of responsibility, even though I knew I could use it,” said Vicky Lorencen, hospital communication specialist.
“But the more I heard from people in my department about it, I gave it a try and never looked back,” she said.
Every weekend, Lorencen emails Best Upon Request her grocery list. When they buy those items on Monday morning, they call Lorencen and she meets them at her car and takes them home on her lunch hour. She said she is saving money because she never sticks to her list while shopping, but the service does.
One of the most endearing missions was asking the service to find “special” decorations for her grandmother’s 90th birthday party.
“I was assigned to decorate my grandmother’s wheelchair,” Lorencen explained. “She loved glamorous, flamboyant, and I wanted peacock feathers among other things. They found beautiful things, even extra for her hair and she loved it and it made me so happy.”
Best Upon Request, which is headquartered in Cincinnati, was contracted to help reduce employee stress, and patients can often use a hand as well.
Many patients who are unexpectedly admitted through the emergency department land on the sixth floor. Many don’t have family or friends available to help them out in such a situation.
“We don’t want them lying in bed worrying about things left undone,” said Ronda Taylor, lead concierge. Others on the team are Dawn Chinavare and Yvonne Curling.
For instance, one woman had her rent check in her purse, so the service retrieved it and gave the money to her landlord. If someone fell in a parking lot, for instance, and was taken by ambulance to the hospital and admitted, the service will retrieve the car for that patient. Or they will buy groceries and take them to the soon-to-be-released patient’s home and put them in cupboards and the refrigerator.
One of the more unusual requests was during the Jackson County Fair. A man asked that the service buy him an elephant ear. His wife rated the service a “thumbs up.” Another young man who was severely injured in an accident said the only thing that sounded good to eat was a burger and fries from Steak ‘N Shake, so they got that for him.
Since they are often out running errands, employees know to email or call and leave a message on the concierge phone. Best Upon Request pays for the errand up front and then collects cash or charges the patient or employee’s credit card when they return.
“Our job is so rewarding and every day is different,” said Taylor. “It is so nice to help people wipe things off their to-do list.”