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Published in Press Releases on September 15, 2009 (PDF)

Concierge service lightens personal load for patients, staff

By Patrice Guilfoyle

From helping a patient's wife try to find a comfortable and low-cost way to transport her recuperating husband 1,700 miles back home to planning an employee's wedding, Circles Concierge aims to provide personal assistance services to the patients, visitors and employees of the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

Michelle Hamilton (on phone) and Sue Rankin, on-site concierge
Michelle Hamilton (on phone) and Sue Rankin, on-site concierge

Circles, a subsidiary of the Medical Center's food services vendor Sodexo, boasts of several services ranging from full-service travel planner and personal shopper to all-purpose coordinator and home-maintenance guru. The program is part of the existing contract with Sodexo as a "value-added service," said Dodie McElmurray, administrator for clinical support services at University Hospitals and Health System.

Patients and their visitors have access to the same concierge services that are often found at hotels, such as laundry and dry cleaning services, arrangements for accommodations, transportation and floral services. The main benefit is peace of mind, McElmurray said.

"They can concentrate on their loved ones getting better and let the concierge take care of some of the details," she said.

Heidi Werther, Circles director of business and client development, said a patient's wife was appreciative of the help she received in securing transportation for her and her husband back home to Idaho.

"There was a budget to stay within and the patient's wife was looking for comparable, comfortable travel options that would not constrict the healing process for her husband," she said.

After several inquiries into an RV, flights, rental vans, buses and trains, the concierge professional arranged a flight and an SUV rental as a solution that worked best for the couple.

For employees, Circles can handle many personal requests. Werther said UMMC employees have requested help with various needs, such as finding a house cleaner, tickets to shows, and dinner and hotel reservations.

Werther said an employee requested information on small jazz groups for a 2010 wedding, including price ranges and demo tapes. Circles provided six options to the employee.

Circles' clients only pay for goods and services that require payment, such as tickets to events, flights, postage stamps or shipping. Fees for errand-running services may apply, but a concierge professional can provide further information.

A Circles professional can be contacted by calling 4-7778 from 6 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Friday and 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.