UPHS — Marquette Heroes | Kimberly LaForais

Kimberly LaForais is a Patient Experience
and Recipient Rights Advisor at UPHS-Marquette. 

What is your official title?
Patient Experience and Recipient Rights Advisor

What was your inspiration for getting into healthcare?
When I was a child my grandfather sustained a stroke, which greatly impacted his ability to communicate verbally. Fast forward, when I was a Senior in High School, I attended the Health Occupations class and had the opportunity to job shadow in the Speech Therapy department at Marquette General Hospital. This unique experience allowed me to see firsthand the incredible impact Speech Pathologists make with patients to regain communication skills, such as my grandfather. At that time, MGH developed a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) program. I was fortunate to be hired as a member of the TBI program team, while I earned a Bachelor of Science in Speech Pathology.

What’s a typical day like for you? What is it like working in this field? 
One of the things I like most about my role is that no two days are ever the same. My main responsibility is that I serve as the Patient Advocate, through the resolution of patient concerns and grievances as well as the Recipient Rights Advisor (RRA). As the RRA, I report to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Office of Recipient Rights. As a Recipient Rights Advisor, it is my role to ensure that the rights established within the Mental Health Code are maintained to protect the rights of our inpatient Behavioral Health population. I also provide staff education in the area of overall patient experience and rights. On a typical day, I am assisting patients, families, and/or our staff with a wide variety of questions or concerns. I consider it my passion and privilege to assist patients and families through some of the most emotionally and physically challenging events of their lives.  

How long have you been employed here? Have you always been in the same position? 
I was hired in 1991. In my nearly 29 years with the hospital, I have worked in many different areas of the health care organization. I started in direct patient care in the TBI program and the Behavioral Health Unit. I have worked in a variety of outpatient clinic settings. I found my way to patient rights through the Patient Experience office, where I have worked now for over three years.  

What are some of the big changes you have experiences in this position?
In my current role, the biggest change has been the hospital move to our new location. I truly appreciate and enjoy our new campus and private rooms for all our patients.  

What are some of your interests outside of work? What is your favorite local gem?
I enjoy spending time with my family. I enjoy exploring local waterfalls, fishing, walks in the woods, and home projects with my fiancé. Everyone should check out Bond Falls, which is our favorite local gem! I also enjoy painting (walls and canvas), home decorating, drawing, binge-watching Netflix series with my daughter, and collecting/restoring antiques with my son.    

What do you enjoy most about working at UPHS – Marquette? 
I enjoy and appreciate the camaraderie with the staff when navigating challenging scenarios. I enjoy various employee appreciation activities throughout the year. Most of all, I appreciate seeing the depth of knowledge and compassion of our staff and how it positively impacts our patient’s lives.

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