Constant changes during the pandemic have escalated the amount of tension in registration areas.

“We have had many families struggle with our visitor restrictions, virtual waiting room, temperature screening, and appointment availability,” says Emily Robitaille, a patient access employee at Connecticut Children’s. Here are some common scenarios:

The situation: Parents arrive for an appointment, and find out they owe a large amount. They complain that nobody told them.

The solution: Registrars assure the family they do not need to pay the entire amount, and can make a small payment, says Kayla Dlubac, a registrar at Connecticut Children’s.

The situation: A parent comes in at their scheduled time for an MRI, but still ends up in the waiting room. “The family is unaware of the process,” Dlubac says. The “table time” for MRIs are different than the appointment time to allow for registration paperwork or prepping for anesthesia.

The solution: Registrars apologize for the long wait, and try to explain the reason why the family was asked to come in early. The registrar goes back to speak directly with the MRI technicians or sedation nurses to ask how much longer the wait will be, Dlubac says.

The situation: Families are upset about restricted visitor policies, which allow only one parent to come in with the child, and no siblings.

The solution: Registrars go to the manager to see if an exception can be made. Sometimes, both parents or siblings can go in since they weren’t told of the policy in advance. “When in doubt, we apologize and show the families that we understand their emotions,” Dlubac says.

The situation: There is some kind of unpleasant surprise. “Often times, families show up and have no idea what department they are seeing or what the appointment entails,” Robitaille notes.

The solution: Remaining available can make a big difference to people. Registrars initiate the conversation first with a greeting or a smile. If registrars do not know the answer to a question, they take the time to help people find someone who does. If the family does not know where they are going, registrars physically walk them to the destination. “In all the unknowns of what they have to deal with — new policies, directions, test results, or insurance issues — we can be the constant that helps them navigate that experience,” Robitaille says.