by Cathy Wilson
Every six weeks a large group gathers for a dinner meeting in the physician dining room at Le Bonheur Children's Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. They discuss new policies, brainstorm solutions to challenges, hear updates from different hospital committees and learn more about a family that has been touched by the hospital. If you were to join this dinner meeting, you would see the usual suspects at a hospital meeting - the CEO, doctors, nurses and department heads - but you would also find a large group of volunteers; moms and dads and other guardians of patients. These family partners have gone through an interview and training process and have agreed to volunteer their time to improve the care at Le Bonheur for the good of their children and all the other children treated at the hospital each year.
The Le Bonheur Family Partners Council was started six years ago as a part of the hospital's commitment to patient- and family-centered care. The council has helped with everything from designing the new hospital to making it possible for a parent to be present at anesthesia induction. Having family members give their perspective changes the way decisions are made because we view the hospital in a different way than staff. Whether you spend two nights or two weeks or two months in the hospital, you see things that staff may not, and you experience things that the staff cannot.
My husband, Robert, and I joined the Family Partners Council at Le Bonheur three years ago because we wanted to give back to the hospital that had given so much to our family. As a part of the council, we have reviewed and revised hospital policies, made recommendations on hospital programs, participated in tours of the hospital with government officials and shared our Le Bonheur story with many people. We also have learned so much about Le Bonheur and met so many amazing families and staff members. We have seen firsthand Le Bonheur's commitment to patients and families.
Our trip to Washington in July will be a great opportunity to share our story with more government officials and meet more amazing families, while also showing our girls our nation's capital. Hopefully, we will also learn more about issues important to our nation’s children and have much to report back to our Family Partners Council.