Patient Visitor Guide David Mead’s job is part greeter, part concierge and part escort for the thousands of people who visit Albany Med every month.
Mostly, his job is to make visitors, patients and their families feel as comfortable as possible.
“People may come in here anxious about their health or a loved one’s situation. The last thing they need to worry about is finding their way,” said Mead, a retired state Department of Health employee who works part-time.
The patient guides are just part of the support system. Digital navigation touch screens and color-coded maps also help visitors and employees locate services that may have moved to other locations. But patient care specialists say there is no substitute for the human touch.
“The guides are our ambassadors,” said Charles Clute, director of Patient Relations. “They set the tone for visitors from the time they enter the door.”
Over the past several years, in preparation for relocating services in the new Patient Pavilion, Albany Med worked with an interior design firm to implement more visual “wayfinding” systems with enhanced signage, color identifiers, textiles, lighting and other means to make it easier for people to remember elevator lobbies and major directional decision points.
Mead’s day, which can include escorting patients, handing out maps or just saying “hello,” starts in the pre-dawn hours. On a recent day as his shift is ending, he spots a group by a second-floor Patient Pavilion elevator who appears unsure.
“All set with where you’re going?” Mead asks.
This time the group nods they’re OK. Mead waves them goodbye. Everyone is smiling.