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Five Years of Patient Input into Massachusetts Health Care

The third annual Patient and Family Advisory Council conference is under way in Worcester. Local advocates say these community volunteers have saved consumers both time and money. Courtesy of Health Care for All Massachusetts.
The third annual Patient and Family Advisory Council conference is under way in Worcester. Local advocates say these community volunteers have saved consumers both time and money. Courtesy of Health Care for All Massachusetts.
May 12, 2015

WORCESTER, Mass. - Chalk it up as another milestone for Massachusetts health care. This month marks five years since the state launched the first-in-the-nation Patient and Family Advisory Councils (PFAC).

Wendy Franz of Hampden County says she never had any intention of becoming a healthcare advocate, but that changed when her eight-year-old daughter, who had never been sick before, suffered a massive seizure and ended up in intensive care.

"Nobody came to talk to us, nobody told us what was going on," she says. "I felt, 'Well, just come tell us whether she's dying, or what's going on.' And I never wanted another family to feel that way. So I got involved."

Franz now sits on the Baystate Health Patient and Family Advisory Council, and is one of over 200 volunteer council members representing 60 Massachusetts hospitals. She is attending a statewide healthcare conference Tuesday at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester.

Amy Whitcomb Slemmer, executive director with Health Care For All, says Patient and Family Advisory Councils have saved consumers money and helped them gain access to proper medical services - plus they provide groundbreaking feedback in Massachusetts.

"This is the first state in the country to require every hospital gather together the voices of patients and local community leaders and consumers," says Whitcomb Slemmer, "and provide expertise for the hospital to improve overall patient care."

Among the issues on the table for the 2015 Massachusetts PFAC Conference are patient safety, psychiatric and end-of-life care.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - MA