Every day at Akron Children’s, we strive to deliver compassionate care and create positive experiences for our patients and families. This month, we’re spotlighting Stephan Sammartino, MSN, APRN-CNP, a nurse practitioner in the Akron Children’s Mahoning Valley emergency room (ER), who recently received the following feedback from a patient family:
“The nurse practitioner (Stephan Sammartino) working was amazing. He took the time to really listen to my son’s whole story. He was one of the most knowledgeable care providers I have ever came across and answered all questions above and beyond. He really took a lot of time to educate me on what was going on with my son, and when I left, I felt confident to take my son home, confident in the plan of care and confident in when to come back if needed. After assessing my son, he chose a treatment plan that was something I didn’t expect but worked amazingly for my son. We are doing so much better already. I wish I could articulate how complete and cared for he made us feel. If more health care providers took the time to educate and listen to their patients like this, the world would be a healthier place.”
How long have you worked at Akron Children’s, and what’s your role?
I’ve been with Akron Children’s for 6 years. I’m currently working as a nurse practitioner in the Mahoning Valley emergency room. I also moonlight at the Montrose, Mansfield and Warren Urgent Care offices.
Reflecting on this patient experience and the feedback you received, how do you feel about it?
It’s a good feeling. In the ER/Urgent Care setting, you have a limited amount of time to make a positive impression on patients and families, especially with the higher volumes we’ve been seeing. It means a lot that this mother took the time to leave a positive comment about her experience and care.
How do you build this level of trust with a patient and family, so they feel comfortable and confident with your treatment plan?
Taking a few extra minutes with families and patients to truly listen to their concerns makes all the difference. It’s easy to get lost in the chief complaint of cough/fever and assume the family is concerned for pneumonia, when in reality they’re more concerned about the patient’s lack of appetite or the fact that the child is sleeping more than usual and not as playful. I attempt to address their specific concerns by explaining my rationale, including families in the treatment plan, giving them options for treatment when able, and answering whatever questions they may have. This gives them an aspect of control in an often stressful and worrisome situation, leading to better trust and confidence in the plan of care.
What does patient- and family-centered care mean to you? How do you strive to deliver that care?
To me it’s treating the parents and the patient like a member of my own family. I’ve found that it’s all about setting realistic expectations and trying to explain things at a level that the lay person can understand. Most families come in with little to no medical knowledge. Setting them up to successfully manage the illness, whatever it may be, is crucial to delivering family-centered care.
What do you most enjoy about your work at Akron Children’s?
I’m a giant child at heart, and I get to act like it at work. I enjoy seeing the kids smile when we can hold a conversation about their favorite superheroes, the comical looks they give me when I find animals in their ears, or how a popsicle and stickers can make a visit so much more enjoyable.