Chair Files

Volunteers and Clinicians Mobilize to Improve Care

“Mobility is medicine,” say clinicians and volunteers working together to improve patient care at Hartford Hospital in Connecticut. The 867-bed hospital has created a patient-centered, cost-effective patient mobility program with volunteers. The goals: increase patient mobilization to prevent deconditioning, loss of function and complications associated with bed rest and create a culture that makes early and frequent mobilization a priority. The risk management department approved volunteers walking with patients. Then a hospital team, which included a nurse educator, geriatric APRN, physical therapist and volunteer services coordinator, developed and implemented the program, first as a pilot and then its expansion. Volunteers receive extensive training on patient rights and privacy; infection control and safety procedures; and communication with patients and nursing staff. Staff members learn about the program’s benefits, identify patients and track outcomes. To date, 161 volunteers have completed 6,297 hours and approximately 6,452 mobility episodes with patients. Following the pilot program, nurses mentioned patient mobility status more often in shift reports and 88% perceived staff are mobilizing patients more often than they did before the program. In a short-term survey of patients, 100% reported that if the mobility volunteer had not come to their room, they probably would not have gotten up to walk on their own. The mobility encounters are believed to be one component contributing to a decrease in length of stay in most units using the program.

For more information, contact Kelley Boothby,, or Eileen Pelletier,, both directors of volunteer services, or Carolyn Kelley,, physical therapist. Visit the website for the AHA’s Association for Healthcare Volunteer Resource Professionals at features case studies, webinars and guides from AHA resources and other groups. 


Additional Resources

Webinars December 13th, 2017

Equity of Care Webinar SeriesPart 2: Aligning Diversity and Inclusion, Community Engagement, Busi......

Webinars November 20th, 2017

Equity of Care Webinar SeriesPart 1: Aligning Diversity and Inclusion, Community Engagement, Busi......

Webinars November 17th, 2017

Transportation and the Role of Hospitals This AHA webinar on “Transportation and the Role of Hos......