The terms ombud, ombuds, ombudsperson, and ombudsman are used interchangeably and all have the same weight and meaning. An ombuds is someone who helps resolve conflicts and concerns. The ombuds may do this through one on one interactions with a visitor, or with multiple individuals separately or all together.
The ombuds may serve as an intermediary, mediator, facilitator, or simply as a listener – the choice is yours.
The Ombuds Office is:
Neutral and Impartial: The ombuds advocates for a fair and equitable process and does not advocate on behalf of any particular individual. The ombuds considers the legitimate concerns and interests of all individuals affected by the matter under consideration.
Confidential: Communications with the ombuds are confidential and privileged. The ombudsman holds all communications with those seeking assistance in strict confidence, and does not disclose confidential communications unless given permission to do so. The only exception to this privilege of confidentiality is where there appears to be imminent risk of serious harm, and where there is no other reasonable option.
The ombuds keeps no formal written records.
Informal: As an informal and off-the-record resource, the ombuds does not make binding decisions, mandate policies, or formally adjudicate issues for the College. The ombudsman supplements, but does not replace, formal channels, for instance formal channels such as filing a grievance or formal complaint. Use of the Ombuds Office is entirely voluntary.
Independent: The ombuds exercises sole discretion over whether and how to act regarding an individual’s concern, a trend or concerns of multiple individuals over time. The Ombuds Office is independent in structure and function from other entities within Baylor College of Medicine.
The ombuds may make recommendations for the general improvement of Baylor College of Medicine and may provide feedback on trends, issues, policies, practices and procedures.