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Chapter 3 Manning the Contact Point
country. I was promised health care for the rest of my life.” HM Door sympathizes,  “You sound very upset, Captain  Boat.” “You bet I’m upset. Now I want to know if you’re going  to  do  something?” “Yes sir,” answers HM Door, “I’m going to help you get the care you need, but first I’d like to explain the situation.” “Go ahead and explain; I’m listening, but you’d better make it good.” “Captain Boat, I understand your frustration in trying to access our system. However, we simply don’t have   the   number   of   appointments   needed   to accommodate  the  enormous  volume  of  patients requesting  them.” “What, are you kidding?’ responds the Captain, “I’ve always gotten my health care at the base hospital.” HM Door continues, “Sir, we do have options for alternative  care  if  you  prefer  not  to  wait  for  a space-available  appointment.  Our  Health  Benefits Advisor, Lt. Mary Christmas, can explain these options. She’s the person at the hospital that can solve problems like yours. Would you like to talk with her, Captain Boat?” “I am having so much elbow pain that I guess it does make sense to talk to someone who can help me get care.” “I can transfer your call to her right now. Let me give you her phone number in case we’re disconnected. The  number  is  123-4567.” “Heath Benefits Officer, Lt. Christmas, may I help you.” “This is Captain Boat, I retired from the service after 30 years and have been seen many times at the base hospital. I have a referral from primary care to see an orthopedist,  but  I  was  told  that  there  were  no  available appointments  for  at  least  2  months.” Lt. Christmas responds,  “I’ m glad you called me, Captain  Boat,  I  can  help  you  locate  an  orthopedic physician  in  the  local  community  through  our  Health Care  Finder  Program  or  through  our  Partnership Program using your CHAMPUS benefits. Would you like  me  to  explain  these  two  options  to  you  or  discuss the  benefits  offered  through  CHAMPUS.” “Perhaps I should come to the hospital to talk with you. I’ll be on the base this afternoon—can I see you then?” “You sure can. We’re located on the first floor in the patient  administration  section.  I’m  looking  forward  to meeting with you.” “Thank you, I’ll be there by 1400.” EVALUATION OF CASE NUMBER 8 In a health care environment, there will always be some  angry  patients,  problems  with  family  members, and problems with the health care staff. Many of these problems are unique to this profession. After all, few people want to be patients. This in turn, creates an excellent  environment  for  emotional  and  mental  stress. This  case  is  a  example  of  how  positive  com- munication can be used to turn a hostile encounter into a neutral, if not a pleasant, one. Captain Boat was upset because he was unable to get an appointment to see an orthopedic physician. Such encounters happen daily at military facilities when services to retirees are limited. Going the extra step to ensure customer satisfaction is only one part of the HM rating. The actions of Lt. Christmas and HM Door indicated that they did take that step.  First  HM  Door  reacted  patiently  and sympathetically with Captain Boat. He then transferred Captain Boat’s call to the patient administration section to have the problem resolved. Lt. Christmas offered to help locate a physician in the local community that could take care of the captain’s problem. She then went a step further by offering to explain the benefits available through  CHAMPUS. 2-14

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