MARCH 2012

Brett Schussel, R.N., and Thankamma Thamban, R.N.

Westside Lounge Offers Benefits to Patients and Nurses

The Westside Lounge gives discharged patients at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center a comfortable and convenient place to wait for their ride home while freeing up beds for incoming patients who need them. Those picking up discharged patients from the lounge, which is in Room 1303 adjacent to the west public elevators, can park for free just steps away in the outdoor lot beside the Emergency Department entrance.

The lounge is equipped with comfortable recliners, magazines, a television, a telephone and a computer with Internet access. It also provides patients with snacks and a complimentary hot meal, which can be delivered within 15 minutes. It is staffed with at least one and as many as three registered nurses and is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

“Having the lounge allows beds to become available, which really helps the flow of the hospital,” says Ana B. Tomas, R.N. “We give the unit nurses peace of mind that their outgoing patients are comfortable and happy while they work on checking in the new ones.”

The lounge nurses are also a good resource for patients, who are transitioning from being in the hospital, where everything is provided for them, to being more independent when they go home, says Brett Schussel, R.N., who also works in the lounge.

“The patients really like the one-on-one treatment they get from us,” Schussel says. “We do everything we can to make them feel comfortable and safe.”

The lounge was created in 2007 as a way to improve “patient flow” at the hospital. Although the lounge can accommodate several patients at a time, it typically serves between three and 11 patients a day, says Thankamma Thamban, R.N., who has worked in the lounge since it was launched.

Patients must be alert, have stable vital signs and not require close supervision to be discharged to the lounge. They also must be able to walk independently, or with minimal assistance.

Unit nurses may accompany discharged patients to the lounge or brief the lounge nurses on the patients’ needs via a quick telephone call if escort service is transporting patients. Lounge nurses can make arrangements to pick up prescriptions from the pharmacy, assist with follow-up appointments and answer questions about the use of prescribed medications. They also call discharged patients the following day to check on how they are doing.

“The patients really love it when we call them the following day,” Thamban says. “They are so appreciative. It lets them know we care and really gives them a lasting impression about UCLA.”