Ellen Hansen, chief nursing officer at Batson Children's Hospital, talks with FAST members and hospital leaders during the group's April meeting.
Ellen Hansen, CNO at Batson Children's Hospital, talks with FAST members and hospital leaders during the group's April meeting.
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Patients, families' committee service helps shape care, experience at UMMC

Published on Monday, April 15, 2019

By: Annie Oeth, aoeth@umc.edu

Patient care ideas and input, shared over a sandwich supper, are helping shape the patient and family experience at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

Monthly meetings of FAST, Children’s of Mississippi’s Family Advisory and Support Team, bring parents and caregivers together for an exchange of information in the evening. A neonatal intensive care version, N-FAST, meets during the day and near the NICU.

Both groups, meeting at times convenient for families, are sharing information, listening and improving experiences. The concept is spreading to University Hospital, where the Patient and Family Advisory Council is being formed to enhance the delivery of care that is centered on adult patients and their families, said Skye Stoker, director of UMMC’s Office of Patient Experience.


“The voice of the patient needs to be on the agenda and in the conversation in every institutional decision,” Stoker said. “If I’m the patient, I want to trust that everyone is working on my behalf. I want to understand what’s going on and that people are listening to me. I want to be part of my own health care team.”

Patient-centered care is an approach that is respectful of, and responsive to, individual patient preferences, needs and values, while ensuring those values guide health care decisions.

FAST includes parents and other care providers of children who have been Children’s of Mississippi patients within the past year.

On April 9, FAST members were discussing plans for UMMC’s pediatric expansion that’s now under construction. Input from patient families went into the planning phase of the seven-story hospital tower, and Medical Center leaders are still listening, said Donna Manning, FAST chair.

Majure, Joseph_WEB.jpg

Diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, Manning’s son Madison had been a patient of Dr. Marc Majure, division chief of pediatric pulmonology, throughout his childhood. Now 22, Madison has moved from being a Batson Children’s Hospital patient to receiving adult care at University Hospital when hospital-based services are needed.

“Now that we are moving from pediatric care to adult, I’m pleased there is a way for patients and families to influence care in the adult hospital,” she said.

“The first time Madison was a patient at the adult hospital, Dr. Majure came to see him,” said Manning. “He went out of his way to see someone who was no longer his patient just to see how he was doing. Batson Children’s Hospital has been such a large part of our lives, so I want to give back because the people there have given so much to us.”

Input from patients and their families is a gift that improves care, Stoker said.

FAST members gather monthly to discuss ideas for improving patients' experiences at Batson Children's Hospital.
FAST members meet monthly to discuss ideas for improving patients' experiences at Batson Children's Hospital.

“Sometimes patients give very thoughtful feedback from perspectives their caregivers haven’t considered,” she said. “They want us to be stronger as an institution, and believe that if they get involved, they can make a difference. We need to create a better forum for them at UMMC.”

The councils promote two-way, open communication between patients, families, staff, providers and hospital administration, Stoker said. A minimum eight people are needed for the adult council, with its diversity coming “from a cultural and industry perspective, and from the perspective of general experience with a health system,” Stoker said.

FAST projects have included adding more directional signage to help families find their way around Batson and learning how patients and their families can help reduce infection risks. The group generated about $1,000 for projects through its “Deck the Halls of Batson” wreath fundraiser, and a family resource handbook is in the works, said Katie Puckett of Pearl, a FAST member.

Hospital chaplain Jeffery Murphy talks with clergy, FAST members and hospital leaders during an informational program held earlier this month.
Jeffery Murphy, standing, hospital chaplain, talks with clergy, FAST members and hospital leaders during an informational program earlier this month.

Any patient or adult family member of a patient can fill out an application to serve on the adult council. They are selected by a steering committee, and their responsibilities include attending monthly meetings; providing and sharing patient and family perspective and concerns surrounding the health care experience; and collaboratively working on group projects to improve patient- and family-centered care at UMMC.

FAST applications are available online. To learn more about the adult Patient and Family Advisory Council, visit their webpage. To join, email PFAC@umc.edu.

Among members of the adult council is Rose Cheatham, a UMMC congenital heart disease patient. “I’ve been on both sides of this, as a patient and as an employee,” said Cheatham, who worked in the Division of Internal Medicine and Cardiology before taking her current job as research coordinator for the Jackson Heart Clinic.

Portrait of Rose Cheatham

Cheatham had surgery at the Medical Center in 1995 for an atrial septal defect. Today, she sees UMMC physicians Dr. Mike McMullan and Dr. William Campbell as she continues to monitor her heart disease.

The patient’s voice needs to be heard, and patients need to be given more information about their options for care as their health journey continues, Cheatham said. “I was a patient who needed to be bridged over to adult care when I was 21. I was married and still seeing a pediatric cardiologist,” she said. “I wasn’t comfortable with that.”

Often, it’s the intangible things that define a patient’s experience or that of their family member, Stoker said.

“The elements of empathy and kindness, and making a connection, are critical to us giving quality and safe care.”