About the Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC) and Youth Advisory Council (YAC)
The Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC) was founded out of the love and support of the Masi family for our community. Dr. Nick Masi and his family spearheaded their vision in 2002. Through their daughter’s cancer treatment journey, they saw the importance of family involvement, and upon the loss of their daughter Jennifer, they committed to establish a Patient and Family Advisory Council at our hospital.
Our council is made up of a diverse group of parents whose children have received care at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital. Our families return to the hospital to give back as a way to show the support and love they received during their child’s hospitalization. Council members work with hospital teams to improve positive working partnerships among the child, families, and providers.
Our PFAC meets monthly along with administrators and hospital staff. The council provides feedback on upcoming changes to policies and procedures. Council members take part in committees to contribute their ideas, reflections and experiences of care. They also provide educational sessions to hospital employees on Patient and Family Centered Care. The hospital administration regularly calls on PFAC members to provide a family perspective on hospital projects and family communications.
The Youth Advisory Council (YAC) was started by a group of teenagers and includes former Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital patients, their siblings, and community members all wanting to give back and provide support to currently admitted patients and families. The council meets once a month to plan and implement fun monthly events for the patients and families.
These events encourage patients to engage in the power of play while in the hospital. The YAC members promote the healing process with these opportunities to encourage the patients to laugh, smile and talk with other patients. It gives opportunities for parents to connect with other parents and provides the environment of engagement with each other. Some fun parties that have turned into annual events include “Back to School Carnival”, “Haunted House” and “Thanksgiving Around the World”.
The PFAC has two committees that includes PFAC members who have had a family member with specific childhood issues that have unique family challenges. These sub-committees meet regularly and have their own projects and initiatives.
- Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU): Our NICU committee is comprised of parents and grandparents whose infants were patients in the unit. They provide services such as mentoring parents, hosting support groups, and giving the parent’s perspective during NICU meetings.
- Behavioral Health: Our Behavioral Health committee consists of parents who have children that have received care in the Behavioral Health Unit. They host events for Mental Health Awareness Month, provide recommendations to hospital policies about mental health, and design informational materials for families with children in the unit.
Youth Advisory Council
Roles for Advisors
There are many kinds of advisory roles that you can play besides being on a formal committee. You may wish to participate in other activities – for example, providing training to professionals or reviewing written materials. Here are some examples:
- Members of task forces
- Advisory board members
- Program evaluators
- Co-faculty for staff education
- Mentors for other families
- Grant reviewers
- Reviewers of audiovisual and written materials
- Participants in focus groups
- Members of committees hiring new staff
- Participants at conferences and working meetings
- Participants in quality improvement initiatives
Projects and Initiatives
Advise and Counsel
Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital regularly calls on PFAC members to provide a family perspective on hospital projects and family communications. Past projects have included:
- Participating in the application process for Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital to become the first children’s hospital to receive Planetree designation in 2017 and re-certification in 2021.
- Contributing to the design of the hospital rooms and family lounge for the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital expansion.
- Developing a notebook given to families to assist them in asking questions about their child’s health.
- Collaborating on features for the free-standing building, including suggesting that a child’s voice be used in the elevator.
- Reviewing menu options for children staying in the hospital.
- Reviewing educational materials provided to families.
The PFAC members support other families by sharing their experiences, answering questions and listening to families who are in the hospital. This support includes:
- Visiting patients and providing support to family members who are going through similar experiences to their own.
- Serving free meals to allow family members an opportunity to get out of their room and socialize.
- Offering cookies and coffee and some company to family members in the hospital.
- Assisting individual families in need when connected by hospital staff.
Staff Training and Appreciation
The PFAC supports families by partnering with the health care professionals who provide care to patients and families in the following ways:
- Educating health care professionals, including hospital leadership, about the importance of patient- and family-centered care.
- Serving as the voice of families in hospital-wide meetings with topics such as grievance, quality care and patient safety meetings.
- Participating in interviews of key leadership and staff positions.
- Recognizing hospital staff by having events during Nurse Appreciation Week in May and Patient Family Centered Care month in October.
The PFAC members raise awareness of the importance of patient- and family-centered care in the community by participating in community events such as:
- Sponsoring a fun interactive booth at the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital Special Needs Fair in October.
- Run, walk, or bike to support Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital’s Tour de Broward event.
- Collaborating with other PFACs across the nation at conferences.
Where We’re Located
The Sheridan Healthcare Family Resource Center is located on the first floor of Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital. It was designed to provide families a refuge during their child’s hospital admission. Families can read, watch TV and get information about hospital and community resources from our volunteers. The center has computers and a printer, as well as toys and books for children. For surgery patients, a communication board is available so that families can check on their child’s status. The Family Resource Center is also home to the office of the Director of Community Engagement.
Joining the Patient and Family Advisory Councils
We're looking for people who have:
- A desire to make a positive difference in the hospital
- A positive approach and the ability to see many different points of view
- Enthusiasm about the hospital's mission of excellence, quality, safety, community focus and customer satisfaction
- The ability to share both positive and negative experiences in a constructive way
- The ability to communicate, listen to, and work with families and staff whose background, experiences, and styles may be very different from their own
- A willingness to share their own experiences with others
- An attitude that values partnership and teamwork
Advisors attend a volunteer orientation, at which several important aspects of privacy and confidentiality, as well as safety and other organizational priorities and practices, are discussed. The Volunteer Services department also conducts a background check and provides you with a hospital ID badge, indicating you are a patient/family advisor.
How Do I Join?
If your child or loved one has been a patient at the hospital, and you would like to join the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital Patient and Family Advisory Council or one of our sub-committees, please complete the downloadable application form below and return it to us via e-mail or fax.
Once we have received your form, a member of our staff will contact you to continue the application process, which includes a personal interview and background check. You will be invited to attend our monthly PFAC meeting as a visitor. Meetings are held on the 3rd Monday evening each month. This will give you the chance to understand what we do and how we collaborate to improve patient and family centered care at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital. Following the meeting visit, you will receive more information about the responsibilities and logistics of becoming a council member.