“Hospitals, like other large institutions, often are accused of being cold and impersonal,” began an article in Hospitals magazine on Sept. 16, 1970. “However, personal factors — warmth, personality, kindness and courtesy — are as much a part of total patient care as are technical services.”

To underscore the fact, Albany (N.Y.) Medical Center Hospital that year launched a courtesy campaign, led by a committee drawn from various departments. According to the Hospitals article, student nurses designed posters with slogans like “Courtesy Is Contagious, Catch Some Today,” “Courtesy Is Good Medicine — Serve It with a Smile” and “Smile! Look What It Did for Mona Lisa."

Buttons proclaiming “Kindness Comforts” and “Courtesy is Caring” were distributed to hospital employees by “Miss Courtesy” — two student nurses who also passed out coin purses imprinted with “Courtesy Pays.” Employees who wore their buttons were rewarded with free coffee in the cafeteria.

Miss Courtesy

Although an increase in the number of smiles or kind acts by employees “cannot be measured statistically,” Hospitals acknowledged, suggestion slips from patients in the hospital at the time “indicated they felt and appreciated the impact of the campaign.”

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