|Voluntary student of HCM City University of Medicine and Pharmacy, who offers social work services at University Medical Centre, gives guidance to outpatients on health examination procedures. — VNS Photo Gia Lộc
HCM CITY (VNS) — University volunteers who offer social work services at HCM City hospitals have helped to improve patient morale and reduce the workload of medical staff.
The students, who work from 6:30 am to noon, give guidance to outpatients on health examination procedures and directions to examination rooms.
Nguyen Tri Minh of Thu Duc District, for example, works as a volunteer at the city's Oncology Hospital, which admits about 2,000 inpatients and 10,000 outpatients each day.
As student at the city's psychology faculty at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Minh has helped relieve anxiety and pain felt by children with cancer.
The students have also organised music programmes for the children.
At Cho Ray Hospital, the volunteers have assisted nurses and doctors in intensive palliative care units.
Dr Tran Quyet Tien, Cho Ray Hospital's deputy head, said the students had been "very helpful".
The hospital admits 3,000-4,000 outpatients each day, and only 13 healthcare staff are available to provide guidance on examination procedures, leading to a long waiting time for patients.
With students' assistance, the waiting times have been reduced.
"The image of enthusiastic students assisting patients left a deep impression on the leaders of the Ministry of Health when they visited the hospital," Tien said.
He asked the city's Youth Social Work Centre, which administers the student volunteer programme, to expand it to other hospitals in the city.
In a visit to HCM City University Medical Centre, Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Kim Tien praised the students and later asked hospitals nationwide to establish a social work division to provide services to patients during treatment.
In 2011, the health ministry launched a project on medical social work to 2020.
Under the project, four central level hospitals and six provincial level hospitals will set up social work divisions this year.
By 2020, social work divisions will be set up at 80 per cent of the country's hospitals at the central level, 60 per cent at provincial level, 30 per cent at district level and 40 per cent at ward or commune level.
Only a few hospitals including National Paediatrics Hospital, HCM City People's Hospital No.115 and Paediatrics Hospital No.1 have social work divisions.
The city's Department of Health said that social work divisions had improved patient satisfaction.
The People's Hospital No.115, which is the model for the programme, opened a social work division in 2011.
The hospital's division has carried out surveys on psychological and social needs of patients, and has provided counselling on health examination and treatment as well as social assistance policies.
It has also mobilised individuals and organisations to provide financial assistance to needy patients.
Patient satisfaction level was 98 per cent last year, according to the hospital's quality report.
In a related matter, in June the Viet Nam Young Physician Association began working with the Viet Nam Youth Federation and Viet Nam Volunteers Centre to carry out a project on social work at five main hospitals in HCM City, Ha Noi, Hue, Da Nang and Can Tho.
The project aims to eliminate hospital brokers who illegally work with health staff who give priority to patients so they do not have to wait a long time. The brokers also receive commissions if they introduce patients to other hospitals or healthcare centres.
The brokers sometimes sell the numbers given out at hospitals so that patients can be seen earlier.
At the recent launching ceremony of the anti-brokers project, Dr Nguyen Ba Tinh, standing deputy chairman of the Viet Nam Young Physician Association, said that by 2019 the project would be expanded to 100 hospitals nationwide. — VNS