Providing high-quality patient care and a pleasant patient experience is a top priority at Mass General, from the start of the patient’s stay until their safe return home. To ensure a comfortable transition from hospital to home while also helping to make way for new admissions, the MGH Capacity Coordination Center created the Discharge Lounge – a space in the Wang Lobby for medically cleared patients to relax as they await their transportation out of Mass General.
Initially launched as a pilot program during the first COVID surge in 2020, the Discharge Lounge is now a resource that serves nearly 125 patients per month and allows staff on inpatient floors to facilitate earlier discharges and open beds to other patients sooner.
“When we think about addressing capacity challenges, small interventions like the Discharge Lounge add up to have a large impact,” says Tina Stone, MSN, RN, associate chief nurse, Case Management, Capacity Coordination Center, Emergency Services and Psychiatry. “Thanks to these initiatives, we have the opportunity to discharge patients sooner when appropriate, which leads to less backup in the Emergency Department.”
The average patient spends one hour in the lounge before being picked up – 60 minutes that would have otherwise been spent occupying a bed when they no longer required inpatient care. Stone says patients receive free meal vouchers while they wait, and Discharge Lounge staff help transport them to Eat Street Café to enjoy their meal.
“Our priority is to make this transition period as seamless and stress-free as possible,” says Patrick Jordan, Discharge Lounge ambassador. “Our compassionate staff is always on hand to ensure that patients receive the care and support they need.”
For those who require additional support during discharge, the Discharge Lounge also provides a Care Van service, which helps patients without reliable transportation get home safely. Since November 2022, the Care Van has transported some 500 patients.
“While the Care Van is commonly used in surrounding areas such as Revere, Somerville and Chelsea, it has also taken patients as far as western Massachusetts, Rhode Island an New Hampshire,” Stone says. “Sometimes, our drivers even deliver forgotten medical equipment and materials for dressing changes when a patient realizes they left it at the hospital.”
Discharge Lounge staff take great pride in the services they offer and the comfort they provide to patients. Jordan, who played professional baseball before working at the MGH, says this new career path has allowed him to learn from people from diverse backgrounds and cultures – all while working as a unified team to save lives.
“It has been extremely rewarding and utterly amazing to see the growth of our Discharge Lounge team, even in just a few short months since I started in this role,” Jordan says. “Some of our staff – including me – have never worked in a hospital setting before, but I learn so much about patient care and hospital operations every day.”
Stone says having ambassadors, like Jordan, dedicated to the space has been beneficial for both patients and staff on the floors.
“They truly are an anchor,” she says. “Knowing nurses can call down to the lounge and someone dedicated to helping our patients get home will be there has made a huge difference. The use of alternative spaces and services has been a well-received addition to Mass General.”