Volunteer group relays complaints and kudos to WhidbeyHealth

‘Our role is to be proactive, reactive and advisory’

Instead of a suggestion box for patients to slip in comments, WhidbeyHealth offers real live people to respond to complaints, criticism and even kudos.

Called the Patient and Family Advisory Council, the group’s goal is to be a collaborator between the health system and the people it serves.

“Our role is to be proactive, reactive and advisory,” member Jill Usher said in a presentation at a recent WhidbeyHealth board of commissioners meeting.

Started in 2015 and comprised of 11 members, the group recently expanded its initial emphasis beyond WhidbeyHealth Medical Center.

“We started with the hospital and now we’ve taken an active reach into the clinics,” Usher said. “We’ve had over 50 documented interactions with customers.”

She presented examples of the types of positive and negative comments received, and how some were resolved.

“Many of the issues deal with communication,” said Usher. “Both sides make assumptions and this leads to frustration.”

When a newly injured patient on crutches needed to make frequent visits to an orthopaedic clinic, he expressed frustration at not being able to easily get in and out the clinic entrance.

“It didn’t have a power-assisted door and now there is one,” Usher said.

Marge Moore, president of the advisory council, sums up its role as “a group of volunteers who are working to improve the patient experience.”

More volunteers are needed for the council, which meets monthly.

Medical expertise is not required.

It’s preferable for people who volunteer to have first-hand experience as patients in the health system or experience providing support to in-patient family members.

The biggest common denominator among the advisory group is that they all have an extraordinary commitment to their community health care system, said Linda Gipson, chief quality and transformation officer.

The council’s focus, Gibson explained, is assuring the health system’s “policies and processes are patient-friendly and result not only in a great clinical outcome, but in a great experience from the patient’s perspective.”

Volunteers are expected to participate on other hospital committees tackling specific topics or issues.

WhidbeyHealth Patient and Family Advisory Council can be reached via email advisorycouncil@whidbeyhealth.org or message phone at 360-678-7656, ext 8636. Advisory council applications are at www.whidbeyhealth.org at the Patient and Family Advisory Council blue box link.

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