Taking on tough situations

Patient Advocate Services can be reached by calling 352-265-0123

Correction: The print version of News&Notes published an incorrect phone number for Patient Advocate Services. The correct number for Patient Advocate Services is 352-265-0123.


“How do you do it?”

It’s a question our UF Health Shands patient advocates are accustomed to hearing. Most people don’t understand how these individuals handle emotionally charged

Jana Olutola is a patient advocate for the UF Health Clinical Quality and Patient Safety department Patient Experience team. She works with hospital inpatients and has been in her role for nearly a year.situations and solve complaints for patients and their families every day.

But patient advocates see past the clenched jaws and furrowed brows. They listen, evaluate and solve problems to “recover” service and keep their patients’ experiences as positive as possible.

Patient advocates act as liaisons between inpatients and health care providers. They receive referrals from patients, family members, staff and physicians throughout our hospitals and remain objective in often difficult circumstances.

“Patient advocates have a broad view of the entire UF Health system and the resources available,” said Christine Cassisi, Sebastian Ferrero Office of Clinical Quality and Patient Safety at UF Health Patient Experience department director. “They have the time to listen effectively and sort through jumbled details to arrive at a solution for most patient issues.”

Patient advocates screen and handle about 200 complaints per month. Most of the time they work at the bedside, speaking with the parties involved and directing concerns.

When a staff member has done everything they can to de-escalate a situation, a patient advocate is a welcome, neutral participant in the conversation.

“It’s not always easy, but what we do gives me a lot of joy,” said Beth Smith, the Patient Advocate Services coordinator for the department. “If we can use a patient’s experience, even if it’s a bad one, to change our behaviors and processes for the next person, that’s a success.”

Patient advocates should be called after other attempts to solve a patient’s concerns are unsuccessful. Staff should first listen to the patient’s feedback, respond in a reassuring manner, share their intention to help solve the issue and then immediately address the situation with a supervisor.

“Once patients are given an opportunity to share their frustrations and can understand that we’re here to help them, they begin to calm down,” Smith said. “They just want to be heard.”

With everything we do at UF Health to provide caring and hospitable service and ensure a positive patient experience, we thank our Patient Experience team for their devotion to the patients and family members they support.

Patient Advocate Services

Call 352-265-0123

The office is staffed from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.,

Other helpful resources

  • For reports of lost or damaged patient property, contact Security at 352-260-7713.
  • For dietary issues, contact Food and Nutrition Services at 352-258-1810 (north campus) or 352-260-7255 (south campus).
  • For concerns about cleanliness, contact Environmental Services at 352-265-0480.