The People Behind Jefferson's
Patient & Family Advisory Council
The people of Jefferson’s Patient and Family Advisory Council represent a variety of experiences. They’ve been through challenging times and navigated matters of life and death.
If they were not in the hospital bed themselves, they were bedside with loved ones. They are people who, for the most part, had good—even miraculous—outcomes, but sometimes not without bumps along the way.
We sought out their involvement specifically and found people who survived incredibly close calls and others who shepherded them back to health. We found regular folks dealing with dire health circumstances and others coping with lifelong conditions. All of them have an awful lot to contribute to our unending pursuit always to improve the patient experience.
We thank them more than we can say, for their time and their personal investment in this ambitious initiative known as Jefferson’s Patient and Family Advisory Council.
- David Terhune, Volunteer
I couldn’t be more grateful to the people of Jefferson. They saved me. Participating on this Council is a way to give back.
- Lindsay Hoff, Volunteer, PFAC Co-Chair
I think when a hospital reaches out directly to the people it’s supposed to be serving, it gains not only a unique perspective but also valuable insight on what the Patient Experience is really all about.
- Galit Kantor Green, Volunteer, PFAC Co-Chair
Life is precious and I want to give back for all that Jefferson has done for my life and the lives of those closest to me. It's not only extremely rewarding to see the ideas we discuss in Council meetings come to life in practice, but also enormously gratifying to know that I can personally help impact the delivery of care for the next patient coming through the door.
PFAC: Ambitious Beginnings
Council in their own words
Richard Webster, RN, MSN, President, Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals: The purpose of an initiative like this, is to gather precious first-hand feedback from the people best positioned and most qualified to provide it.
Jennifer Jasmine Arfaa, PhD, Chief Patient Experience Officer: In addition to patients and their families, the Council comprises senior-level hospital administrators including me and the President.
Eleanor Gates, RN, MSN, Vice President Surgery and Trauma: The composition of the council gives us the means not only to raise important issues, but also the people and process by which to address those issues to make the improvements we’re seeking.
Nora Kramer, MS, RN, Nursing Supervisor: It was harder than you’d think to populate this Council. We were very selective, putting a high priority on both knowledge and commitment to making things better. We were looking for people who could translate their experience, positive and opportunities for improvement, into action.
Webster: Jefferson was among the early adopters of the executive position of Chief Patient Experience Officer, someone whose sole focus is the patient interaction with the hospital. To this day, not that many hospitals—let alone academic medical centers—have elevated their efforts to guarantee a great patient experience to this level. In many ways Jefferson is ahead of the curve.
Arfaa: How patients perceive their experience here is a bottom line issue. In this new healthcare world with an emphasis on value rather than volume, patient experience survey results are an increasingly important indicator of how well we’re doing. They are a point of fierce competition among hospitals. And while Jefferson has offered extraordinary care since opening our doors in 1825, you can never rest on your reputation alone.
Gates: We started this effort with 10 patients and family volunteers members whom we call Advisors, and added another 10 staffers. We meet for two hours every other month, with regular contact in between. When we get together it’s for a dinner meeting, which gives all of us time to socialize and bond. It makes for a stronger, more cohesive group in a comfortable environment different from the usual corporate fare.
Arfaa: As soon as we empanelled our members, we drafted leadership from among the volunteers themselves. Our intention was to empower the laypeople and prove how serious we were about giving voice to their concerns and suggestions.
Jennifer Sparrow: We help select items for consideration, set the agenda and run the meetings. We also conduct research to really drill down and get the facts.
Lindsay Hoff: In both Jennifer’s and my case, our professional work equips us with certain skills useful in this effort. For example, one of the first things we did was canvas our members through an online survey, to learn more about the direction we needed to go. There’s been no shortage of discussion points and that’s how we want it. In fact, we created a special New Idea Submission Form to make it easier for people around the campus to contribute their good thoughts and suggestions on specific issues.
Gates: The PFAC tackles some difficult subjects, such as pressure ulcers prevention and patient education materials. We’ve even addressed many aspects of the discharge process (which is more complicated than most people think) and specific ways to improve it.
Kramer: We’re working on raising hand hygiene compliance to reduce the chance of hospital acquired infections. These are issues that every hospital deals with, coast to coast.
Arfaa: Whenever a glitch surfaces in our system, we want to take a fresh look at it. PFAC is the perfect vehicle. We bring in Jefferson physicians and nurses and administrators to illuminate the issue and educate us. It works. You can hear a pin drop during these presentations.
Webster: What makes the PFAC so valuable an asset to Jefferson, is its real-world approach. We contemplate real, everyday issues and suggest smart improvements. At the same time, we consider the costs attached to them and ways to get it done. That kind of thinking is a huge contribution to Jefferson, the benefit of which flows directly to our patients.
Arfaa: We’re already seeing results and that’s impressive for so short a time in operation. People ask me how much power this group of volunteers actually wields. Just by virtue of having direct and extended access to the people running the hospital, this council has extraordinary power to influence and to effect change. They are uniquely positioned to help us make and keep satisfied customers and that is our #1 goal!