PFAC member reflects on the importance of patient and family partnerships in healthcare
As a long-time patient, Downes was more than willing to provide feedback. He says, "I had such great experiences here that I felt as though it was a way for me to give back to the hospital."
Downes says of his role as Patient Co-Chair, "It allows the hospital to see through the patient’s eyes." His experiences being treated provide valuable insight into what’s really happening every day. And it’s not just the patient perspective that he brings to the table. He says, "My family has brought up things that I wouldn’t see as a patient."
When asked how the patient experience has changed since the inception of PFAC, Downes says, "I think a lot of things have improved. From the family side of it, a perfect example is the Taiclet Family Center and the input that we had there beginning with the use of the space and colors for the decor. From the patient side, noise in the hallways, especially at night, has been improved greatly." He’s also proud of the input the committee had on the redesign of the process for preoperative check in that provides increased privacy for patients awaiting surgery and space to allow loved ones to stay to support and comfort them until they are taken into the operating room.
Over the years, the PFAC has been instrumental in many projects, including assistance with the format and content of the new patient handbook, "Your Guide to Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital," and ongoing assistance with simplifying physician and services directories, wayfinding maps and signage. Many will also recognize Downes from the hospital’s promotional video, "Through Our Doors."
Downes thinks the group is able to be so productive because of the unique culture here at BWFH. He says, "The PFAC here was originally started not because they had to." In fact, he notices a big difference between the BWFH PFAC and those at other hospitals. "The PFAC here at BWFH is much more widely accepted as an important component of the hospital’s process improvement efforts. We are often consulted by department managers and committee members before they roll out new patient-related documents or program initiatives to the hospital at large―issues that will affect patients and families," he says.
BWFH believes bringing the perspectives of patients and families directly into the planning, delivery and evaluation of healthcare ultimately improves quality and safety. And the PFAC is always looking for new members to help bring a fresh set of eyes. "What we’re looking for now is to include a more diverse membership so that the PFAC represents the hospital and its community as a whole, in terms of the patients and the families that come through the doors," says Downes.
Downes describes his involvement with PFAC as "a great experience." He says, "As a result of being on the PFAC, I have switched all of my medical care here." He also says he will continue to be involved because "It’s always changing, we’re always discussing interesting new projects." Here at BWFH, the hospital is small enough that he’s able to see the results of his work, and that is very rewarding.