Middlesex Hospital Patient and Family Advisory Council surpassed expectations in terms of supporting the mission of Middlesex Health System – to provide the safest, highest quality care and the best experience possible for our community. One may ask, isn’t every Patient and Family Advisory Council supposed to support their healthcare organizations? Yes, however, the results achieved in such a short time from their origination is impressive and why we are submitting this nomination. Their immediate respect for each other, their collaboration and determination to make a difference for our patients, and immediate significant success was unique and yielded positive results!
From its inception in March 2012 to March 2014, the Middlesex Hospital Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC) stood with the Middlesex Health System team in strong support of their activities and embraced every opportunity to provide the patient and family perspective to the organization and its leadership.
The Patient and Family Advisory Council met on a monthly basis with robust attendance, participation, and commitment from the get-go. In order to effectively partner with the organization and promote patient engagement, the membership felt compelled to learn more about key aspects of our healthcare system. A plan was set for half of the meeting agendas to focus on learning opportunities about our business model, finances, marketing strategies, nursing professional practice model, Surgical Services, and inpatient Hospital Medicine program. The other meetings were planned to be “working” meetings devoted to actualization and implementation of focused projects.
Whether addressing their activities in the larger monthly meeting or within several subcommittees, the PFAC members prioritized their goals into several key areas:
- assisting patients to help them understand ways they could be more involved in the safety of their own care
- fostering ways to improve the partnership of patients with the healthcare team
- suggesting specific tools and tips for improved physician communication
- enhancing the diversity of the membership
- providing recommendations for way-finding in various locations on our campuses
Several PFAC members have participated in activities that made them visible to all Middlesex Hospital System employees. Those events included presenting at Schwartz Rounds, a presentation to the Board of Directors and all Management Staff on the goals and objectives of our Patient and Family Advisory Council, and representation at our Hospice Day of Remembrance. They also were instrumental in having our gift shop stock The Patient Checklist, a book that goes into greater detail to maximize patient involvement in their own care while in the hospital.
The PFAC leadership also met with our Hospitalist Leadership to begin collaboration and discussion on how to partner with them on creating tools to help set realistic patient/family and provider expectations and provide the highest quality care and best patient experience. A result of that discussion is the formation of a Patient Experience Committee within the Hospitalist Department including two to three of our PFAC members.
The Patient and Family Advisory Council is not stopping or even slowing down for 2014. Their objectives are bold and designed to expand community awareness of Middlesex Hospital System capabilities, care and prevention of chronic disease, medication compliance and how to access and leverage social services to promote better health.
• Provided key input and worked with vendors, nursing leadership and staff to assist in the design of 170 new CareBoards in Medical Surgical and Critical Care patient rooms, to improve communication between patients, family members and staff.
• Checklist subcommittee maximized ways patients could be more involved in their care. They collaborated with key nursing leaders and the Patient and Family Education Committee to devise three checklists: “Preparing to Go to the Hospital,” “Be Active in Your Care,” and “Before You Leave the Hospital” encouraging patients to speak up and ask questions during their admission in order to plan for a safe discharge. They also were involved in revising current discharge forms with clearer information, implemented in March 2014.
• Researched evidence-based practices for identifying use of color-coded uniforms to assist in identifying members of the healthcare team. The PFAC is ready to move forward and work with frontline providers to approach implementation of specific uniform colors.
• Three PFAC members within the Patient and Family Education Committee were key in providing patient and family perspective in revising the Patient Handbook, transforming it into a collaborative and interactive Patient Guide and Journal with key information on hospital departments and processes. It further allows patients a place to write down questions, concerns, and keep important printed resources key to their plan of care.
• Evidence shows that one of the most powerful ways to enlighten staff on the delivery of their care is by telling stories. One of our proudest accomplishments is “Claudia’s Story,” a video highlighting one of our PFAC members telling her story about her experiences, positive and negative, across the continuum of our services. Viewed by 600+ staff members, it received rave reviews about the impact it made on staff and how they changed their communication style.