Cancer treatment can be a long and arduous journey that demands most of a patient’s physical and emotional energy. Little is left in reserve for tackling all the day-to-day chores, errands, and obligations that continually crop up. To help ease the daily burden for cancer patients and their families so they can focus on fighting the disease and getting better, Mercy Health has partnered with Best Upon Request to provide concierge services at the Mercy Health Cancer Center.
“Mercy Health is always looking for innovative ways to make life easier for patients, and this new partnership with Best Upon Request reflects that,” states Melissa Rinker, CTR, Manager of Ancillary Services for Mercy Health Oncology. “We’re providing this complimentary service with the goal of relieving patients and their families of all the daily worries and errands that come up while they’re here inside the walls of Mercy Health Cancer Centers.”
Grocery shopping, filling prescriptions at the pharmacy, picking up dry cleaning, filling the car with gas, and letting the dog out during the day are just a sampling of the services a concierge can provide to ease the burden for patients and their families. However, he or she is unable to transport people or pets due to the potential liability involved.
“Being a concierge is about giving back,” says Best Upon Request concierge Natalie R. Bostelman, who serves the Mercy Health - Perrysburg Cancer Center. “I’ll do everything in my power to lighten the load for patients, families, and even the cancer center staff, and every day is different. For example, this morning I made a quick McDonald’s run, and later I’ll be picking up some poinsettias and then running a donation to Nightingales Harvest—a local organization dedicated to providing nutritious food and hygiene products to cancer patients.”
Bostelman has also received her share of unique service requests. The most unusual of these—but also one of the most rewarding—was a request last January from a very fatigued infusion patient to help take down her Christmas tree. Always eager to help, Bostelman scheduled a day and time to stop by the patient’s home. On the appointed day, there was a terrible ice storm, so the patient and her husband were amazed that Bostelman actually showed up right on time. “There were a lot of fragile glass ornaments on the tree, and they all belong in certain boxes,” she recalls. “As I carefully took them off the tree, we talked about the significance of each one. I was there about an hour and a half, and afterward, the patient’s husband wanted to give me a tip. I declined and told him, ‘I’m here at your pleasure.’” To show her gratitude, the patient wrote a beautiful note using both sides of a feedback form, which earned Bostelman a “Take the Cake” award from Best Upon Request.
Finding ways to meet the unique needs and requests of patients, families, and staff demands considerable creativity and flexibility—attributes that Bostelman has in abundance thanks to her background in acting and crafting. She also enjoys the challenge of providing concierge services in different working environments. “For instance, the service needs at the Perrysburg Cancer Center tend to be different from those in other healthcare settings because the patients are here for relatively short periods on an outpatient basis. So a lot of the requests I get are for food or care and comfort services, such as grabbing a warm blanket or complementary sandwich for them or providing coloring books for their kids,” she says.
Among the unique concierge services that set Mercy Health Cancer Centers apart is holding a special celebration when patients reach the end of treatment. “The end of active treatment is a landmark day for patients, and we celebrate it by giving them a gift bag and encouraging them to ring a full-sized gong, which reverberates through the entire campus. I tell them to ring it as hard as they can, and most of them are happy to comply,” says Bostelman.
Rinker observes that Mercy Health implemented concierge services for cancer patients not for the sake of bolstering the “bottom line,” but because it’s the right thing to do. “This program really speaks to Mercy Health’s commitment to providing care that nurtures patients in body, mind, and spirit. Natalie does an absolutely awesome job and we’re extremely grateful to have her here taking the burden off patients and their families and making them feel welcome and comfortable,” she says. ❦