Patient- and Family-Centered Care

Giselle, who had kidney cancer, with her family and Lotsy Dotsy, Resident Clown

At Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital, we embrace a patient- and family-centered care approach to healthcare. Under this philosophy, patients, their families and healthcare professionals are true partners, working together to best meet the needs of the child.

About Our Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC) and Youth Advisory Council (YAC)

The Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC) was founded out of the love and support of the Masi family for our community. Dr. Nick Masi and his family spearheaded their vision in 2002. Through their daughter’s cancer treatment journey, they saw the importance of family involvement, and upon the loss of their daughter Jennifer, they committed to establish a Patient and Family Advisory Council at our hospital.

Our council is made up of a diverse group of parents, whose children have received care at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital. Some of our members of the council have lost a loved one, but return to the hospital to give back as a way to show the support and love they received during their child’s hospitalization Council members work collaboratively with hospital administration to foster positive working partnerships among the child, families and providers.

The Youth Advisory Council (YAC) was started by a group of teenagers and includes former Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital patients, their siblings, and community members all wanting to give back and provide support to currently admitted patients and families. YAC meet once a month to plan and implement fun monthly events for the patients and families.

These events encourage patients to engage in the power of play while in the hospital. The YAC members promote the healing process with these opportunities to encourage the patients to laugh, smile and talk with other patients. It gives opportunities for parents to connect with other parents and provides the environment of engagement with each other. Some fun parties that have turned into annual events include “Back to School Carnival”, “Haunted House” and “Thanksgiving Around the World”.

To apply for a position as a patient and family advisor, download the Patient and Family Advisor Application or the Youth Advisory Council Application and turn in the completed application by either faxing to 954-265-0199 or bringing it to the next Family Advisory Council and / or Youth Advisory Council meeting that you are able to attend.

Projects and Initiatives

Advise and Counsel


Our PFAC meets monthly along with administrators and hospital staff who are seeking the council’s feedback on policies and procedures before decisions are made. Council members are part of the many hospital committees to contribute their ideas, reflections and experiences of care. Council members contribute to the hospital’s staff and professional development by providing educational sessions on patient-and family-centered care. The hospital administration regularly calls on PFAC members to provide a family perspective on hospital projects and family communications.

Our PFAC members:

  • Collaborated on the design of the patient’s rooms and family areas, including features like adding a child’s voice in the elevator, sun rooms, and family design of imaging equipment.
  • Developed a ‘Notebook’ given to families to journal their child’s care as a way to facilitate communication with their care team.
  • Review menu options for children staying in the hospital
  • Review educational materials provided to families
  • Participated in the application process for Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital to become the first children’s hospital to receive Planetree certification in 2017

Family Support

PFAC members support other families by sharing their experiences, answering questions and listening to families who are in the hospital:

  • Members round on the families to establish relationships, and provide resources if needed.
  • Members serve free lunches and brunches to encourage family members an opportunity to get out of their room and socialize with PFAC members and other families
  • Members round the halls offering cookies & coffee and some company to family members in the hospital
  • PFAC members are available to assist individual families in need when connected by hospital staff

Staff Training and Appreciation

PFAC supports families by partnering with the healthcare professionals who provide care to patients and families in the following ways:

  • Sit on panels to educate healthcare professionals, including leadership, doctors, medical residents and nursing residents about the importance of patient- and family-centered care
  • Serve as the voice of families in hospital-wide meetings such as grievance, quality care and patient safety meetings
  • Participate in interviews of key leadership and staff positions
  • Recognize hospital staff by having ice cream/dessert events during Nurse Appreciation Week and Patient Family Centered Care month in October

Community Involvement

PFAC members raise awareness of the importance of patient- and family-centered care in the community by participating in events such as:

  • Sponsor a fun interactive booth at the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital Special Needs Fair in October
  • Run, walk or bike to support Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital’s Tour de Broward event
  • Collaborate with other PFACs across the nation at conferences

Focused Committees

PFAC has two committees that include PFAC members who have had a family member with specific medical issues that have unique family challenges. These committees meet monthly and have their own projects and specific initiatives they complete.

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)

Milan, who received lifesaving care in our NICU, after being born with severe breathing trouble at Memorial Hospital Miramar

Our NICU committee comprises parents and grandparents whose infants were patients in the unit::

  • Mentor families at bedside and at weekly support meetings
  • Provide support to families through their journey by creating and distributing crafts to help them feel less isolated
  • Show appreciation to NICU staff on NICU Nurse’s Day and throughout the year
  • Participate in various NICU meetings by incorporating the parent perspective
  • Attend the annual Vermont Oxford Network conference dedicated to transforming newborn care
  • Participate in panel interviews for NICU nursing personnel
  • Create milestones for families to celebrate special moments

Behavioral Health

Our Behavioral Health committee consists of parents whose children have received care in the Behavioral Health Unit:

  • Host events for Mental Health Awareness Month
  • Grand Rounds presentation on the impact of mental illness on the family unit
  • Recommend changes to Child and Adolescent Treatment Services (CATS) Unit
  • Updated surveys to include age groups for more specific patient reporting
  • Recommended the expansion of family visiting hours to twice a day
  • Redesigned materials on Baker Act to be given to families in the emergency room to help families at the time of inpatient intake
  • Distribute quarterly newsletters updating the MHS community on behavioral health news and events

The Sheridan Healthcare Family Resource Center

The Sheridan Healthcare Family Resource Center, located on the first floor of Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, was designed to provide families a refuge during their child’s hospital admission. Families can read, watch TV, have cookies and coffee and get information about hospital and community resources from our volunteers. The center has computers and a printer available, toys and books for children and serves as a site for support groups for families. There is a communication board available for families whose child is having surgery to keep abreast of their child’s status. The office of the Director of Community Engagement and PFCC is located in The Sheridan Healthcare Family Resource Center.

How to Get Involved

If your child or loved one has been a patient at the hospital, and you would like to join the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital Patient and Family Advisory Council:

  • Reach out to Joyce Dorn, Director of Family Support Services at 954-265-0196 or Or apply for a position as a patient and family advisor, by downloading the Patient and Family Advisor Application or the Youth Advisory Council Application and turn in the completed application by either faxing to 954-265-0199 or bringing it to the next Family Advisory Council and / or Youth Advisory Council meeting that you are able to attend.
  • You will be invited to our monthly PFAC meeting, to attend as a visitor. Attending one of our meetings will give you the chance to understand firsthand what we do and how we collaborate to improve patient and family centered care at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital
  • Following the visit, a time will be set up to chat and provide further information about responsibilities and logistics for becoming a council member.
  • Meetings are held on the 3rd Monday evening each month, currently virtual