Have you ever been to the doctor and had them give you several options for courses of treatment? How about being with a family member in the hospital and having the nurses do their shift change discussion in front of you and your loved one? These are all examples of the way the healthcare is changing to be more inclusive and to engage both patients and their family members in their decisions about care.

In 2015, Windom Area Health formed a Patient & Family Advisory Council (PFAC) with the help of the Minnesota Hospital Association (MHA). MHA was launching a statewide PFAC initiative called “Include Always” and we were selected as a pilot hospital. MHA provided guidance in getting our PFAC launched and moving forward on meaningful work.

Our PFAC meets every other month and consists of seven community members that have been patients or have had family members as patients in our facility. Over the course of the last three years they have provided guidance on the following:

  • Assisted with website redesign
  • Safety issues, like patient falls
  • Evaluated admission packets
  • Provided input into Murphy bed location in The Birth Place
  • Walkthrough of the Emergency Department (ED), resulting in several improvements
  • Provider cards/posters in the Emergency Department, along with other projects focused on improving public perception of the ED
  • Suggestions for seating, including evaluation of inpatient hospital room chairs
  • Promotion of the ‘Ask Me 3’ campaign both at Windom Area Health and local clinics

With all projects, having a patient/family perspective is imperative to decision making. Often times, as employees, we are close enough to the action we do not see things from an outside perspective. The PFAC brings that perspective, and also centers us on what our patients and families expect from us. All new hires receive a quarterly orientation in which a PFAC member presents some of their expectations and desires to the new hires:

  • Keep patients/families informed, and use common terms
  • Be genuine, we can tell when you are fake
  • Patients are people, not an assembly line
  • 1st impressions mean a lot, a smile goes a long way
  • We want to know you care about us.

Our current PFAC members are Amy Sokolofsky, Justin Espenson, Barb LaCanne, Julie Brugman, Judy Woizischke, Linda Mix and Pam Gahler. If you would like be involved in a team that is focused on improvements in patient safety, improving and personalizing healthcare, please contact Emily Masters at 507-831-0625 or [email protected]

Blog Written By: Emily Masters, Chief Human Relations Officer

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