Little Smile Makes Huge Difference - VA North Texas Health Care System
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VA North Texas Health Care System

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Little Smile Makes Huge Difference

Ambassador greets Veteran
Sunday, February 13, 2011

Some might say big cities lack hospitality. But at Dallas VA, there are a group of Ambassadors who would beg to differ. Now when Veterans come through the front doors, they are greeted with great a big smile and a "How may I help you?"

Those words are a welcome phrase for the thousands of Veterans and guests who visit the facility each day. Staff volunteers come dressed for the job and are adorned with customer service vests. To these 66 employees, it's not just a job, it's a duty to serve and provide comfort and relief for our distinguished guests.  Each time their shift is over, they walk away with a great deal of personal satisfaction as they are able to help so many.

Revitalized Service

Originated in 1995, the Ambassador Program, then called the Ambassador Club, serves as a source of direction and resource. Being in the 'club' helped the Ambassadors feel part of an elite group who provided special service to our Veterans.

Although the program is not new to Dallas, it's gotten a second life this September and been revitalized with the help of Veteran input and a new customer service team.

What's first on the list of reasons to revive the program? Well that's simple, a renewed commitment to customer care and attention. It's one of the best ways VA North Texas can provide quality care to Veterans.

Elite Crew
Ambassadors perform the following functions:

  • Welcome patients and visitors
  • Walk hallways to find persons needing assistance
  • Solve problems
  • Greet inpatients in their rooms to assist as needed
  • Escort patients and visitors to their destination

The Ambassador role is not for anyone. Employees must apply, be accepted, trained and commit a minimum of two hours each pay period. Working one-hour shifts, the Ambassadors should exemplify kindness, courtesy, care and compassion when interacting with patients, visitors and staff. It also takes initiative, persistence, creativity and competence to pursue solutions – these are a must.

One such employee more than qualifies to be an Ambassador. Meet Penny Greathouse from Library Service. She has been a part of the program since she first started working at Dallas VA Medical Center in 1998. Penny's main desire is to serve and she's honored to do so. "I believe when you help others, good deeds somehow make their way back to you," explains Penny.

When her home was leveled by a tornado, the kind hearts of people who came to her rescue got her through the trial. Realizing that Dallas VA is a big place, and most don't come for leisure, Penny wants to be a part of the good that's resonating in the air. "More often than not, so little means so much," said Penny.  She values the comments from patients who say they love the attention and like having someone to listen to them.

It's all about the Veteran and Penny knows it. She considers it a blessing to be able to leave her desk and get up close and personal with patients and guests. Penny adds, "Just think, if you give them :30 seconds of your time, you might find they really don't want much."

Not much at all... just the care, attention and respect they deserve.

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