Valley Health System
Valley Mount Sinai Comprehensive Cancer Care
Valley Health System is a regional health care system that serves residents in northern New Jersey and southern New York. It comprises The Valley Hospital, Valley Home Care and Valley Medical Group. Key services include cardiology, oncology, women’s and children’s services, emergency care, orthopedics and neurosciences.
As part of its Patient and Family Centered Care initiative, Valley has established Patient and Family Advisory Councils to ensure that the perspectives of patients and families are incorporated into care delivery. Currently, Valley has eight PFACs dedicated to the following areas: The Valley Hospital, Outpatient Oncology Service, Homecare/Hospice, Surgical, Breast Services, NICU, Child Development Center and Cardiac Surgery.
In 2013, the Radiation Oncology department at The Valley Hospital created its own outpatient PFAC. Because of the success of the main hospital with PFACs, staff felt that a designated oncology PFAC could help move the program to the next level. Initially, four patient and family advisors (PFAs) joined the multi-disciplinary health care team. In 2016, the PFAC was expanded to include all of outpatient oncology services—not just radiation. Now, seven PFAs serve on the PFAC that meets monthly; recruitment for additional members is ongoing.
In the past five years, the PFAC has worked on a number of projects, including review of the environment of care, reduction of redundancy among the various cancer practices, patient educational materials, website content, and electronic medical record access. The PFAC also piloted a new patient navigation procedure—partnering with new patients to help navigate the facility as well as identify opportunities for improvements in processes, delays, etc. A Survivor Binder is an ongoing project of the PFAC. The Binder contains numerous resources, including information about support groups, financial advocate services, registered dietician access, wellness programs, and community resources for ongoing survivorship. Revisions to the Binder are done annually by the PFAC as new resources are developed.
Another ongoing project is the quarterly “Cancer Creates” Newsletter, a joint effort with the health system’s marketing team. The PFAC has responsibility for content and editing. Originally, the “brainchild” of one PFAC member, the goal of the newsletter is to provide inspirational information to readers – to impart strength, courage, and hope. Past issues of the newsletter are available for review.
As the PFAC begins its 6th year, “It will continue to play a significant role in ensuring that Valley’s outpatient oncology services combine clinical excellence with care that meets the needs of patients and their families,” according to Deborah Panetta, Director of Radiation Oncology.
Every person, be it a patient or a caregiver, has their own story and it is their story. For me, it was important to talk about my wife and be around those that knew her and served her so well. The Oncology PFAC team affords me that opportunity but, more importantly, it affords me an opportunity to, hopefully, help others as they travel their own journey.
Harry Ferguson – PFAC Member