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Empowering Residents to Find (and Speak) Their Truth

Sierra Tucson Patient Advocates John Flagle and Jan York

The Patient Advocates help foster healthy recovery behaviors

At Sierra Tucson, the Patient Advocates serve as the liaison between residents and staff. Patient Advocates communicate resident concerns to appropriate staff members. The team, consisting of one male and one female Patient Advocate, is open seven days a week to reinforce an environment that is focused on resident-centered care.

What Is a Patient Advocate?

  1. Self-Advocacy – A Patient Advocate supports residents by empowering them to become effective self-advocates. At Sierra Tucson, our job is not to rescue residents from despair; our job is to teach residents essential life skills in recovery. We want each individual to learn how to become his or her own spokesperson, then practice speaking his or her truth during treatment. Self-advocacy allows residents to “flex” their recovery muscles, and the Patient Advocate serves as a trusted staff member with whom they can be transparent.
  2. Cultural Sensitivity – Patient Advocates help to support cross-cultural beliefs and practices by listening and responding to residents’ religious, spiritual, and cultural needs throughout the year. For instance, residents may receive visits by members of the clergy, or the Patient Advocate may coordinate a trip to a nearby synagogue, temple, or church. Special dietary modifications are also organized through the Patient Advocate Office, and certain religious items such as Bibles, prayer books, kiddush cups, and Shabbat candles are provided upon request.
  3. Communication, Collaboration & Confidentiality – Information that is shared between a resident and Patient Advocate is confidential. Although our Patient Advocates are an extension of Sierra Tucson, they want residents to feel safe and comfortable when disclosing information that is often personal to them. They maintain their trust and confidence with integrity. When appropriate and/or necessary, they collaborate with other staff members to ensure residents’ needs are met in a timely manner.
  4. Assessment – The Patient Advocates are responsible for conducting mid-term surveys with our residents. These surveys disclose how the resident feels about his or her treatment experience two weeks after admission. Once the survey is completed, it is reviewed by the Patient Advocates, who address any concerns the resident may be having with the resident. The mid-term survey is then disseminated to Sierra Tucson’s Quality Manager for further investigation and clinical outcomes studies.
  5. Community – The Patient Advocates at Sierra Tucson work hard to establish a sense of community among our residents. From weekly all-community meetings to resident traditions, to outings and fun events on campus, they are committed to creating a feeling of togetherness. Before coming to Sierra Tucson, many of our residents were deep in the throes of their disease – often isolated from the outside world. Patient Advocates help to break down those barriers of isolation by reconnecting residents with others and self. Ultimately, it is their goal to foster healthy recovery skills early on, making the transition from treatment to the “real world” as seamless as possible.

“Residents tell us that we provide a safe environment for them to express their needs and concerns, and that they feel heard.”
-Jan York, Patient Advocate at Sierra Tucson