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Patient-and-Family Centered Care

Patient-and-Family Centered Care

The medical center at Augusta University is a pioneer in the concept of Patient- and Family-Centered Care, an approach that removes the barriers to having collaborative partnerships between healthcare providers, patients and families. This means that we put patients and families first.

  • Patient-and-Family Centered Care

We believe that families are an extension of the patient, not an imposition. The more involved a family is, the more our quality and safety improve along with your satisfaction. We don’t just have visitors in our hospitals, we have healthcare partners and they are an integral part of the healthcare team.

We believe that families are an extension of the patient, not an imposition. The more involved a family is, the more our quality and safety improve along with your satisfaction. We don’t just have visitors in our hospitals, we have healthcare partners and they are an integral part of the healthcare team.

#AUHealthAdvantage: PFCC

Accordingly, we practice these four principles:

  • We treat patients and families with dignity and respect.
  • We provide clear, comprehensive information in ways that are useful and empowering.
  • We create opportunities for patients and families to participate in ways that enhance their control and independence.
  • We ensure that collaboration is inherent in our policies, programs, education and delivery of care.

Because we are an academic medical center with three missions – patient care, medical education and research – we take a team approach to medicine, with you being the most important member of the team. Our team approach means you get better care and better outcomes because of the number of individuals bringing their skills to bear on solving your medical problems. In addition to your attending physician and nurses, the team might also include a resident, who is a full-fledged doctor getting hands-on experience in a given medical specialty, or, in some cases, a medical or nursing student. If you don’t want students involved in your care, just let your nurse or physician know.

Imagine a hospital that invites families to stay with their loved ones 24/7, even in the intensive care unit. Or a hospital that involves patients and families in formulating policy to ensure that patients’ needs and concerns are met. Or a hospital that redesigns its physical structure with patients at the table, collaborating with architects, physicians, nurses and others.

This type of philosophy is known as Patient- and Family-Centered Care, and it is a trend that is being recognized and embraced by hospitals across the United States.  Patient- and Family-Centered Care involves truly partnering with patients and families, not only involving them in decisions about their care, but also gaining the benefit of their help and insights to better plan and deliver care, and evaluate that care. 

The health system at Augusta University is recognized as a pioneer in Patient- and Family-Centered Care by the American Hospital Association and the Institute for Family-Centered Care.  Augusta University began practicing Patient and Family-Centered Care in 1993 when it involved patients and family members in the planning and architectural design of its Children's Hospital of Georgia. Since that time, numerous other efforts that reflect Patient- and Family-Centered Care have been initiated.

Patients’ perspectives were incorporated in the redesign of several areas in the adult hospital, including the mammography area of Medical Center at Augusta University Breast Health Services, a PET/CT unit and a Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit, as examples. The redesign of these units created warm and welcoming spaces to help increase patient comfort, privacy and convenience.

“Patient and Family-Centered Care asks us to empower patients and families so they are aware, knowledgeable and actively engaged in their own health care,” said Pat Sodomka, former senior vice president of Patient- and Family-Centered Care at Augusta University. “What we’ve learned since we started this journey in 1993 is that when we involve patients and families, quality of care improves. It’s really that simple.”

Patient and Family-Centered Care Works

Children's Hospital of Georgia was built utilizing a comprehensive Patient- and Family-Centered Care model. Since its opening in December 1998, the Children's Hospital of Georgia has consistently ranked in the top 10 percent of the Press Ganey national database for pediatric hospitals.

When Augusta University redesigned its Breast Health Center, the results were evident. Faculty, administration and front line employees embraced planning with experienced breast health patients and family members at the table. As a result, the Breast Health Center saw its patient satisfaction scores move from the 40th percentile (April 2003) to the top 10 percent of the Press Ganey national data base of test and treatment services (June 2006).

Our Neuroscience Adult Inpatient Unit was totally redesigned with full participation of patients and families. As a result, the unit has seen improvements in their patient satisfaction scores. Augusta University's philosophy of Patient- and Family-Centered Care aims to give patients choices, tools and a voice to speak up and become full partners in their own health care. “Our organization is committed to this philosophy and to the benefits and improvements in care it offers to our patients,” said Ms. Sodomka.   

To learn more about Patient- and Family-Centered Care, please call 706-721-6838.

Children's Hospital of Georgia was built utilizing a comprehensive Patient- and Family-Centered Care model. Since its opening in December 1998, the Children's Hospital of Georgia has consistently ranked in the top 10 percent of the Press Ganey national database for pediatric hospitals.

When Augusta University redesigned its Breast Health Center, the results were evident. Faculty, administration and front line employees embraced planning with experienced breast health patients and family members at the table. As a result, the Breast Health Center saw its patient satisfaction scores move from the 40th percentile (April 2003) to the top 10 percent of the Press Ganey national data base of test and treatment services (June 2006).

Our Neuroscience Adult Inpatient Unit was totally redesigned with full participation of patients and families. As a result, the unit has seen improvements in their patient satisfaction scores. Augusta University's philosophy of Patient- and Family-Centered Care aims to give patients choices, tools and a voice to speak up and become full partners in their own health care. “Our organization is committed to this philosophy and to the benefits and improvements in care it offers to our patients,” said Ms. Sodomka.   

To learn more about Patient- and Family-Centered Care, please call 706-721-6838.

The Medical Center at Augusta University served as a national model for Patient and Family-Centered Care  as seen on the PBS series, Remaking American Medicine. This four-part series explored the health care quality crisis in the United States, and the innovative solutions being undertaken by providers, patients and families to transform care. The four programs aired on PBS in October 2006.

The final program, “Hand in Hand,” singled out Augusta University as a nationally recognized organization where partnership among patients, their families and health care providers is our guiding vision.

The series consisted of:

Program One - Silent Killer
Every year at least 98,000 Americans die -- and countless more are injured -- as a result of medical errors.  This program begins by profiling the efforts of Sorrel King, whose 18-month-old daughter Josie was killed at one of the most respected hospitals in the world, Johns Hopkins.  King has gone from grieving victim to engaged activist, partnering with Johns Hopkins to make safety a top priority at the institution.  Now she has joined forces with Dr. Donald Berwick, a nationally recognized patient safety advocate, to save 100,000 lives in American hospitals.

Program Two - First Do No Harm
This program focuses on the impact of medical errors in two hospitals and follows the efforts of physicians who are challenging their colleagues to live up to their oath to First Do No Harm.  In Pittsburgh, Chief of Medicine Dr. Richard Shannon is confronting an epidemic of hospital-acquired infections that are shattering the lives of their victims.  Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey is engaged in an effort to totally transform the way the institution delivers care.  The goal is to ensure that the people trusted to provide safe and effective medical treatment do not harm patients.

Program Three - The Stealth Epidemic
Chronic diseases like diabetes and congestive heart failure affect nearly 100 million Americans, and treatment of these illnesses consumes nearly 70 percent of all health care resources. Yet doctors are often unable to prevent needless suffering or even death, and these failures are threatening the viability of our entire health care system. This program looks at groundbreaking efforts in two very different communities -- Los Angeles, Calif. and Whatcom County in the state of Washington -- that are fundamentally transforming the physician-patient relationship ... and offers a glimmer of hope for patients across the country that are struggling with their chronic conditions.

Program Four - Hand in Hand
As medicine continues to become more and more technologically sophisticated and the systems that deliver medical care become more complex, the relationship between providers, patients and families is more important than ever. This final program tells the story of patients and families who have formed a unique bond at Medical Center at Augusta University to transform the institution into a nationally recognized facility where partnership is a guiding vision to the care it delivers.

For more information on “Remaking American Medicine”

Press Ganey serves as the strategic process improvement partner for more than 10,000 health care organizations across the country and across the continuum of care. Their strategic approach for improving the patient experience is critical to the success of their clients’ process improvement efforts.  Press Ganey’s “Listen-Learn-Lead™” approach is data-driven, patient-focused, and is proven to deliver exceptional care and impact patient experiences.

This transition presents an incredible opportunity for us to improve our ability to deliver quality and innovative health care for our patients and families. Through this partnership, we will:

  • Engage leadership – It starts with engaged, passionate leadership. It’s not just about skill, but about the passion and courage to always put the patient first.
  • Provide safe, patient & family centered care – Leadership must foster and nurture a culture that is safe and centered around the patient and their family.
  • Align stakeholders – Alignment holds everything together. This means having systems in place that align employee goals and incentives with organizational goals – ensuring that everyone is working toward a shared goal of providing exceptional care.

Patient Satisfaction Surveys

If you should receive a survey in the mail, we encourage you to fill it out and send it back!  

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