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The “Hospital Care Experience” – What Patients and Families Say

PHOTO: Making a stay in the hospital  or a visit  a better experience for patients and their families is the focus of a first-ever meeting today between some 50 Massachusetts hospitals and 160 members of Patient and Family Advisory Councils, or P-FACs. Members of the PFAC of UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester are participating. Photo courtesy UMass Memorial
PHOTO: Making a stay in the hospital or a visit a better experience for patients and their families is the focus of a first-ever meeting today between some 50 Massachusetts hospitals and 160 members of Patient and Family Advisory Councils, or P-FACs. Members of the PFAC of UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester are participating. Photo courtesy UMass Memorial
May 17, 2013

WESTBOROUGH, Mass. – Making a stay in the hospital – or a visit – a better experience for patients and their families is the focus of a first-ever meeting today among some 50 Massachusetts hospitals and 160 members of Patient and Family Advisory Councils, or PFACs.

Many hospitals, some in Massachusetts, have established the councils, which enable former patients and their families to give their input to administrators.

Dan Wolpert of Worcester, a former heart patient, has been on a PFAC that's advised the UMass Memorial Medical Center there on such things as reducing wait time on phone lines to streamlining the directions in the hospital's halls.

"It was definitely useful for them to hear from us,” he says. “'Well, you know, when you're looking for your loved one and you're in a panic, you need something obvious. You don't want complex directions.'"

Since 2008, the law has required the PFACs. This is the first time they're all getting together with each other and the hospitals, although some Massachusetts hospitals are not yet in compliance.

Wolpert, who is 44, decided to volunteer for the PFAC after receiving hospital care he highly appreciated following a heart attack. He says the council is more than a suggestion box or a gripe session.

"To call it a gripe session – definitely not,” he says. “I would call it much more of a cooperative environment. And sometimes it gets critical."

Amy Whitcomb Slemmer, executive director of Health Care for All, the organizer of the conference, says PFACs have addressed such things as fall-offs in services over weekends.

"You know, our illnesses aren't on a Monday-through-Friday schedule,” she says. “And I know that there are hospitals that have been in the forefront of making sure that the services and care delivered is seamless, regardless of what day of the week or what time of day it is."

Whitcomb Slemmer says Health Care for All was the leading proponent of the PFAC law.

"But we also know there's quite a lot of room for improvement,” she says. “Not every hospital provided their report. Not every hospital's going to be present. And so I hope next year I'll be able to tell you that we have a 100 percent participation from across Massachusetts."


Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - MA