10th Year Anniversary of Patient and Family Centered Care

Written by Volunteer: Karen Belleville

WHS is proud to announce we are celebrating our 10th year of Patient and Family Centered Care. This was developed to concentrate on not only our positive outcomes but to makes sure our patients were having the best experience possible.

Washington Health System’s definition of Patient Experience is defined as the way our patients and families feel about the care we provide.

Brief timeline of PFCC at WHS:

  • The Patient and Family Centered Care initiative began in 2011 with Sandy Hlipala, Director of Inpatient Services, Kathy Pompei, Director Surgical Services, and Kristen Rogers, Director of Patient Experience heading off to a PFCC conference where they were to learn the basic concept of “patient experience” and came home filled with new ideas.
  • Volunteers were requested, along with people from the community, who would help the Washington Health System family as they began the journey of establishing and instilling the basic concepts of “patients having a right to have a ‘say’ in their care and the care of their loved ones”.
  • Kathleen Engelmeier took the role of Director of Patient Experience in April 2013. She worked diligently with the PFCC Steering Committee recruiting volunteers and established the PFCC Council made up of community members and staff holding their first meeting in June 2013.
  • Kathleen retired and Stacey Rush, our current director, took over the team in 2019.

Getting started:

Supporting the WHS Mission of “Great Patient Care” this Patient and Family Centered Care concept looked at the patient and family as a unit.   The patient defined “who they consider to be family”, and our staff then works closely with them to provide a great patient experience.   Many times, the patients are not able to speak for themselves due to illness and the family members are the ones who have questions and concerns.   Our PFCC Advocates, being former patients and family members, are able to make a special connection with them.

Pam Jones, Dennis Schmidt, and Linda Mankey who still serve as volunteers are just a few who initially joined the Patient and Family Centered Care Council at WHS. Several of the original group members were instrumental in getting this initiative embedded in the culture of WHS; i.e., Eleanor McNulty, a lawyer representative, helped establish our By-Laws that govern the group. Many others worked diligently for the PFCC concept and would focus on special areas of particular interest to them like Emergency Department experience or Radiology procedures, Inpatient and Outpatient, all of which have their unique aspects related to the experience.

What we do:

Our PFCC advocates visit patients weekly and/or make phone calls to patients on the units. We also visit patients in our Emergency Department and our Critical Care Unit.

When visiting patients on the units, we are there to give them support, address any concerns and enhance communication with staff.   The staff even help to identify patients who seem to need a little of our time and support.

The PFCC Advocates often help in many other ways through shadowing, internal meetings and committees, and they participate in hospital events like the Charity Ball. The advocates have also help with things like the March of Dimes Bake Sale sponsored by 5E staff, the Whiskey Rebellion Health Fair and Senior Expo.

The PFCC Advocates not only provide support for our patients, but they also support the employees by extending good will. They have provided Ice Cream Socials in the past, candy on Valentine’s Day, “Back to School” bags for those with school-age children in August, honor patients and staff with Veteran Hats for their service on Veterans Day and provide Christmas gifts for our patients on Christmas Day.

Additional Programs:

Dennis Schmidt, an original advocate, and our PFCC Council Chair was instrumental in starting the “Caring Angel” program based on the concept of “No One Dies Alone”. This program trains certain advocate volunteers and then they are “on-call” for all patients who need support at end of life, going through a surgery when no family is available, extending a sympathetic heart to those who are going through troubled times. Whatever need arises, the Caring Angels are ready to lend support.

You can volunteer too!

During COVID, as everywhere, Patient and Family Centered Care lost several advocates, and we are always seeking new interested volunteers to help advocate for the patient and bring innovative ideas to the department.

If you or someone is interested in becoming a Volunteer, click here and submit your application.