In the era of intense hospital competition, improving patient satisfaction goes a long way. This past spring, the Department of Internal Medicine at University Hospital launched a unique campaign to enhance patient experience. First proposed by Pulmonary/Critical Care fellow, Al Veelus, patients cared for by the MICU or Pulmonary service are eligible to receive a free disease-specific t-shirt.

“The idea just hit me”, Veelus says, “Like a push of Adenosine during an episode of SVT.”

Patient Sara Bellar was the first to receive the new souvenir. After presenting with shortness of breath and dullness to percussion, the 66 year-old was presented with a serosanguinous-colored shirt saying, “I came here for a pleural effusion, and all I got was this thoracen-T-shirt”.

“It gave me a chuckle during this stressful time”, Bellar said between coughs, “I can’t wait for my next admission to see which one I’ll get!”

When frequent-flier, Norm Spittlestein, arrived at his weekly ED visit, he was admitted to the Pulmonary service as expected, but he didn’t expect what would happen next. After failing a hospital-record fifth swallow study this month, Mr. Spittlestein was awarded a purulent-colored v-neck with the phrase, “Pneumonia Hopes, Dreams, Aspirations”. The multi-time admit couldn’t have been happier.

“Usually I’m ashamed to come to the hospital since most people know me as the guy who uses his trachea as a second esophagus. But wearing this shirt makes me feel like I belong. And that makes all the difference.”

Since launching the campaign, University Hospital has seen surging patient satisfaction scores. Daily challenges keep patients occupied during commercials, with contests such as, “Lowest SpO2 While Still Mentating” and “Highest Degree of Pitting Edema”. These spur intense competition, all for the opportunity to don a spiffy shirt over a crumb-studded hospital gown.

Unfortunately, due to high patient demand, the shirts have been flying off supply carts leading to shortages. “Every good thing must come to an end”, Veelus laments. “We do have a few shirts remaining that say, ‘Hypoventilation’, but those only come in XL and above.”