Patient- and Family-Centered Care

Giselle, who had kidney cancer, with her family and Lotsy Dotsy, Resident Clown

At Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital, we embrace a patient- and family-centered care approach to healthcare. Under this philosophy, patients, their families and healthcare professionals are true partners, working together to best meet the needs of the child.

About Our Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC)

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. As a family, they had experienced caregiving for their child in our hospital, 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 this hospital. Many of our parents have lost loved ones, but still return to give back to our hospital community. Council members work collaboratively with hospital administration to enhance patient- and family-centered care and to improve the development or fostering of positive working partnerships among the child, families and providers.

Our PFAC meets monthly along with administrators and hospital staff who are seeking the council’s feedback on policies and procedures before decisions are made.  Council members are part of the many hospital committees to contribute their ideas, reflections and experiences of care. Council members contribute to the hospital’s staff and professional development by providing educational sessions on patient-and family-centered care.

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, such as:

  • Participating in the application process for Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital to become the first children’s hospital to receive Planetree designation
  • 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
  • Serving as “secret” shoppers by providing important feedback to Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital when PFAC members are using their services

Family Support

PFAC members support other families by sharing their experiences, answering questions and listening to families who are in the hospital:

  • Specially trained members who have “been there” knock on patients’ doors and provide support to family members who are going through similar experiences
  • Members serve free lunches and brunches to allow family members an opportunity to get out of their room and socialize with PFAC members and other families
  • Members round the halls offering cookies & coffee and some company to family members in the hospital
  • PFAC members are available to assist individual families in need when connected by hospital staff

Staff Training and Appreciation

PFAC supports families by partnering with the healthcare professionals who provide care to patients and families in the following ways:

  • Sit on panels to educate healthcare professionals, including leadership, doctors, medical residents and nursing residents about the importance of patient- and family-centered care
  • Serve as the voice of families in hospital-wide meetings such as grievance, quality care and patient safety meetings
  • Participate in interviews of key leadership and staff positions
  • Recognize hospital staff by having ice cream/dessert events during Nurse Appreciation Week and Patient Family Centered Care month in October

Community Involvement

PFAC members raise awareness of the importance of patient- and family-centered care in the community by participating in events such as:

  • Sponsor 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
  • Collaborate with other PFACs across the nation at conferences

Focused Sub-Committees

PFAC has three committees that include 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.

Youth Advisory Council (YAC) 

Our Youth Advisory Council was started by a group of teenagers and includes former Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital patients, their siblings and community youth under the supervision of our Child Life team:

  • YAC meets once a month to plan and implement fun monthly events for all the patients at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital to attend, such as “Thanksgiving Around the World,” “Back to School Carnival,” “Haunted House,” and  “Painting with a Twist Kidz Edition”
  • YAC events allow for patients to engage in the power of play while in the hospital environment; to come out of their room, laugh, talk, play and just be a kid
YAC events also provide the opportunity for patients and families to connect and share experiences and form friendships

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)

Milan, who received lifesaving care in our NICU, after being born with severe breathing trouble at Memorial Hospital Miramar
  • Our NICU committee comprises parents and grandparents whose infants were patients in the unit:
  • Mentor families at bedside and at weekly support meetings
  • Provide support to families through their journey by creating and distributing crafts to help them feel less isolated
  • Show appreciation to NICU staff on NICU Nurse’s Day and throughout the year
  • Participate in various NICU meetings by incorporating the parent perspective
  • Attend the annual Vermont Oxford Network conference dedicated to transforming newborn care
  • Participate in panel interviews for NICU nursing personnel
  • Create milestones for families to celebrate special moments

Behavioral Health

  • Our Behavioral Health committee consists of parents whose children have received care in the Behavioral Health Unit:
  • Host events for Mental Health Awareness Month
  • Grand Rounds presentation on the impact of mental illness on the family unit
  • Recommend changes to Child and Adolescent Treatment Services (CATS) Unit
  • Updated surveys to include age groups for more specific patient reporting
  • Recommended the expansion of family visiting hours to twice a day
  • Redesigned materials on Baker Act to be given to families in the emergency room to help families at the time of inpatient intake
  • Distribute quarterly newsletters updating the MHS community on behavioral health news and events

The Sheridan Healthcare Family Resource Center

The Sheridan Healthcare Family Resource Center, located on the first floor of Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, was designed to provide families a refuge during their child’s hospital admission. Families can read, watch TV, have cookies and coffee and get information about hospital and community resources from our volunteers. The center has computers and a printer available, toys and books for children and serves as a site for support groups for families. There is a communication board available for families whose child is having surgery to keep abreast of their child’s status. The office of the Director of Community Engagement and PFCC is located in The Sheridan Healthcare Family Resource Center.

How to Get Involved

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:

  • Reach out to Elisa Jones, Director of Community Engagement, Patient and Family Centered Care at 954-265-0196 or
  • You will be invited to our monthly PFAC meeting, to attend as a visitor. Attending one of our meetings will give you the chance to understand firsthand what we do and how we collaborate to improve patient and family centered care at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital
  • Following the visit, a time will be set up to chat and provide further information about responsibilities and logistics for becoming a council member.
  • Meetings are held on the 3rd Monday evening each month, currently virtual

There are also sub-committee meetings for the Youth Advisory Council, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Behavioral Health Unit.