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Posted November 4, 2013
Family Advisory Council Seeks Parents and Teen Patients to Share Time & Unique Viewpoint

Nine Tuesdays each year, the parents and teen members of All Children’s Family Advisory Council meet with hospital leaders for a light dinner and roundtable discussion.

They volunteer their time and perspective to help enhance the patient experience at the 259-bed hospital and its outpatient facilities. They share praise, constructive criticism, challenging moments and the small gesture that helped them get through an especially trying time. 

In addition to the parents and teens, the Family Advisory Council roster includes leaders from many All Children’s divisions: nursing, integrated care, support services/supply chain, medical staff, quality resources, and communications. They listen and learn, at times offering the perspective of someone who’s usually on the other side of the crib, bed or desk, and later on they share comments and suggestions with colleagues.

“The Family Advisory Council has a great deal to contribute to our mission of patient- and family-centered care,” says Hella Ewing, RN, MSM, Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer. “Their input gives a greater voice to patients and families overall and helps us to provide the best possible care through our model of patient- and family-centered care.”

The FAC was created in 2008 to promote family-centered care and to increase the staff’s understanding of the emotional, cultural, and spiritual needs of patients and families as part of a comprehensive approach to care. The Council provides feedback on policies, signage, forms, parking and other day-to-day elements of a hospital stay—even testing out new models of furnishings being considered for inpatient rooms.

The FAC has championed several projects. A few years ago, members worked directly with doctors and residents to launch Family-Centered Rounds on the hospital’s 8th floor Pediatric Medicine Unit. Parents and children took part in training sessions with resident physicians, helping them feel comfortable in more open discussion of the patient’s progress and care plan.

"It makes me proud to know that the staff has not only listened to my family's feedback regarding our daughters' hospitalizations, but has acted upon our suggestions to improve the overall experience and quality of care provided to patients and their respective families."

More recently, several members starred in a brief video explaining Family-Centered Rounds to parents and patients. When a patient is admitted to ACH for the first time, the video is required viewing on the GetWellNetwork, an in-room education and entertainment system.

“In a follow-up survey on our Pediatric Medicine Unit we found that 93 percent of families chose to take part in Family-Centered Rounds and 96 percent agreed that the video helped with their participation,” noted Cindy Driscoll, RN, BSN, MSHCA, Director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and co-chair of the FAC.

Other FAC initiatives have included:

  • Helping to create a new inpatient family handbook, including advice and encouragement directly from parents and patients
  • Helping to select sleep chairs and other equipment for patient rooms
  • Serving on the FAC phone bank during the annual All Children’s Hospital Telethon
  • Sharing their perspective to help the dietary department expand the variety of healthy menu choices
  • Taking part in Nurses Week panel discussions to share experiences on how their child’s nurses at ACH have had an impact on their lives

Mike Petagna of St. Petersburg currently co-chairs the FAC. He and his wife, Jenny, have twice been NICU parents—in the “old hospital” with their firstborn, and in the new All Children’s facility that opened in 2010 with their second child.

"It makes me proud to know that the staff has not only listened to my family's feedback regarding our daughters' hospitalizations, but has acted upon our suggestions to improve the overall experience and quality of care provided to patients and their respective families,” he says. “I encourage other families to participate in this worthwhile effort.”

Parents and teen patients (ages 13-18) are encouraged to apply throughout the year to serve on the FAC.  The Council tries to include families of children with a range of medical conditions who have experienced care on one or more inpatient units and/or frequently use outpatient services.

Please visit www.alllkids.org/fac to complete an application or send a question to the Council.

From September through June, meetings are held at the hospital on the third Tuesday of each month from 6 to 8 p.m.—with a break in December for the busy holiday season.


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501 6th Ave South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
(727) 898-7451
(800) 456-4543

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