Young patients have a voice

Patient and Family Advisory Council diversifies

A new face is bringing more energy to WellStar North Fulton Hospital’s Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC).

Her name is Katie McCroskey, she is 16 years old and has been working hard on different projects to help the council fulfill its mission to advise the hospital on matters that impact patient care and improve patient experience.

Katie joined the group earlier this year after completing a rigorous vetting process. She was invited to be the voice of younger patients who didn’t have representation before.

“I’ve been very interested in healthcare and after having two surgeries in North Fulton I fell in love with the hospital. I wanted to work here,” said Katie, who was a patient at WellStar North Fulton.

This past summer Katie participated on the Student Quality and Organizing Leadership Academy from the Institute of Healthcare Improvement in Boston. During the program she learned about improving the health and health care of her local community and what other organizations are doing around the world. She also worked on a project focused in the opioid epidemic in the North Fulton area.

“We’ve seen many overdoses in local schools so with my project I want to help regulate Narcan (a medication used to block the effects of opioids, especially in overdose) in school clinics,” explained Katie, who is implementing her project with the support of PFAC members and hospital leaders.

Even though she is busy with her role with the PFAC, school work and other activities, she says she wouldn’t change it for anything. “I’m so appreciative of this opportunity. From the moment I started I’ve learned so much and I’ve grown so much. This is 100 percent more than what I expected,” she said. ❍

WellStar North Fulton Hospital launched the PFAC more than four years ago, with the goal of improving the patient experience. The group is composed of former patients, families and staff members. Working with the Georgia Hospital Association (GHA), WellStar North Fulton leaders developed a charter and a formal plan for the PFAC, as well as stringent guidelines for selection of PFAC members.

The value in having a PFAC program is that its members provide non-biased input from different perspectives, which may help identify opportunities for improvement, and in turn, lead to better clinical outcomes and an improved patient experience.

The PFAC was instrumental in the construction of the new hospital chapel and has been active in different hospital activities like safety fairs and physician training.