Improving the Patient Experience With Language and Extra Love

Written by: Chelsea Edwards, Social Media Manager on June 28, 2017


San Juanita Blanco
Catering Associate
Morrison Healthcare

If you’ve ever woken up in a hospital, you know it can be a scary experience. Depending on the circumstance, you could wake up foggy or confused. In a few moments though, you’d likely hear sounds and nearby conversations that quickly reveal what’s happening. But imagine if you couldn’t understand what was being said. Not that you couldn’t hear, but that you didn’t speak the language—that is, unless there was someone to translate.

Watch San Juanita’s story

San Juanita Blanco is a Morrison Healthcare catering associate at Los Angeles County USC Medical Center in California. San Juanita is bilingual and able to connect with both English and Spanish-speaking patients. San Juanita once had a patient who lost his sight and was unable to open his juice or locate his food. She helped him with his meal and explained that she would continue bringing his hospital tray every day. Speaking in Spanish comforted her patient who was previously afraid and uncomfortable because of the language barrier.

On one of her days off, San Juanita received a phone call from the floor supervisor. She explained that the patient San Juanita had grown close with was refusing to take his medication. Knowing San Juanita had established trust with him, San Juanita’s supervisor asked if she could come in and help. San Juanita agreed. When she arrived, she asked the patient what happened.

“Are you finally here? Okay, bring me my food and let them give me my medication,” he said. San Juanita comforted the patient, brought him his meal and helped him take his medication. Afterward, he told her, “I’m very happy that you’re here and brought me my food, that you’re concerned about me– about what I’m eating and that it’s something warm.”

On another occasion, San Juanita had a patient who was terminally ill. Like the patient who had lost his sight, this woman connected with San Juanita. Whenever San Juanita was unable to bring the patient food, she became upset. Dedicated to making the woman as comfortable as possible in her last days, San Juanita made sure she was as available to serve her.

“Patients who are sick like that, they need a little more caring. Someone to be with them to beg them to eat. To say to them, look this is tasty and good.”

In healthcare, patient experience is affected by many variables. There is huge power in food, but often our people like San Juanita are the secret ingredient, the real difference makers when it comes to improving the patient experience and increasing patient satisfaction. If like San Juanita you have a heart for others and are interested in joining a family of caring catering associates, chefs, dietitians and more check out available opportunities today.