Children’s Mercy Kansas City is a comprehensive pediatric medical center, serving patients from birth to age 21. Employing approximately 750 pediatric specialists and more than 8,000 employees, Children’s Mercy had over 600,000 outpatient visits and over 15,000 inpatient admissions in 2018, across two hospital campuses and multiple satellite clinics spanning Missouri and Kansas.

Children’s Mercy is recognized as one of the best children's hospitals in America by U.S. News and World Report, ranking in all 10 pediatric specialties for the fifth consecutive year. It is also the first hospital in Missouri to earn the prestigious Magnet designation for excellence in patient care four times from the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

Children’s Mercy’s journey toward patient- and family-centered care (PFCC) began when the Berry sisters, a dentist and a surgeon, founded the hospital in 1897 to provide care to the neediest children in the community. Their mission continues: “Children’s Mercy is a leading independent children’s health organization dedicated to holistic care, translational research, breakthrough innovation, and educating the next generation of caregivers. Together, we transform the health, well-being and potential of children with unwavering compassion to those most vulnerable.”

Patient Family Advisory Councils

As an integral component of PFCC, Patient and Family Advisory Councils (PFACs) help Children’s Mercy provide the region’s best pediatric health care. PFAC members collaborate with hospital leadership to incorporate the perspectives of patients, families, and the community to improve the quality, safety, and experience of care. Their accomplishments are documented in Annual Reports.

Beginning with a Teen Advisory Board (TAB) in 1999, Children’s Mercy now has 18 PFACs, with 203 patient and family advisors (PFAs) serving on them. Additionally, in FY 2019, patients and families were represented on committees and projects in more than 850 instances. As an example, since 2012, PFAs have been members of all Hospital Acquired Conditions committees. The following graphic show the growth of PFAC and PFA involvement over the years.

PFAC Timeline

Patient and Family Engagement Team

In 2017, Children’s Mercy established its Patient and Family Engagement team (a merger of Family Centered Care and Patient Experience Departments) to support Children’s Mercy’s integration of the patient and family voice throughout all levels of the organization. The team is responsible for oversight of all PFACs and serves as the liaison between all the groups. It provides training and peer mentoring to PFAs. The Patient and Family Engagement team includes a Medical Director, Director, a Patient Experience Specialist, two Program Managers, and two Coordinators.

The Program Managers were intentionally hired in 2008 because of their experience as parents of patients at Children’s Mercy. This move is seen as a ‘game-changer’ by Children’s Mercy’s CEO Paul Kempinski: “It raised the organization to a higher standard of performance because [staff] know our family members are walking the halls and are in meetings every day.” The two Program Managers attend numerous hospital-wide and departmental leadership meetings to provide a patient and family lens as well as work with hospital leadership across departments to identify ways in which patients and families can be more engaged.

In addition to recruiting, training, and managing the PFAs, the Program Managers also provide training to staff on how to effectively integrate PFAs into committees and projects. The Program Managers serve as vital connections between the hospital staff, patients, and families – providing a safe place for everyone to ask questions and seek advice on how to improve the patient and family engagement process. According to one of the Program Managers, “Our success can be attributed to building trusting relationships, step by step, that result in the creation of a culture of collaboration between patients, families, and staff.”

Key Initiatives Involving Patient and Family Advisors

  • Children’s Research Institute (CRI)

    With two $75 million philanthropic donations, the CRI will be an integrated research environment where no boundaries exist between science and medicine. The vision of the CRI is to improve the health and well being of children through world-class translational research. The research programs focus on areas such as genomics, precision therapeutics, immunotherapy, and health outcomes. The CRI building was carefully designed so research and clinical care work as cross-functional teams, aligned together, to find answers to pediatric medicine’s most challenging questions. The building is slated to be complete in the fall of 2020 and hiring is currently underway. FAB members were on the Research Institute Discovery Portal Team and PFAs are members of the Institutional Review Board and also participate on multiple research projects.
  • Family Experience Tracer Program

    The Family Experience Tracer Program was designed to gather qualitative feedback from patients and families in the midst of their experience. Patient and Family Engagement Program Managers and specially trained PFAs conduct these peer-to-peer interviews across the healthcare system. A customized tool is used to guide the conversation and gather in-depth insights that are utilized to inform hospital wide initiatives.
  • Family as Faculty Program

    The Family as Faculty Program recognizes patient and family expertise, encourages clinician-family collaboration, and acknowledges the value of patient and family observations and perceptions across all disciplines of care. Parents are uniquely qualified to educate health care providers about integrating the principles of patient- and family-centered care into their daily practice. Sharing real-life experiences, Family Educators impart vital information that enables clinicians to better understand the health care experience from the family's perspective.
    • Patient Care Services Orientation—Program Managers introduce the patient- and family- centered care culture of Children's Mercy to new employees during orientation.
    • Graduate Nurse Residency—A panel of Family Educators share their families’ stories and examples of patient- and family-centered care in action.
    • Resident Education—A PFCC curriculum has been designed to help residents understand medicine from the patients' perspective, improve communication, and facilitate sharing of information and decision-making.

Measurement and Evaluation

Because of its broad involvement of the patient and family “voice,” Children’s Mercy is committed to making it as effective as possible. Therefore, evaluation is done on a regular basis, including:

  • Tracking PFA Engagement by year

    Patient and Family Engagement graph
  • Conducting PFAC Surveys
    • Collect demographic and satisfaction data from PFAC members
    • Target recruitment for underrepresented populations, based on survey results
  • Shining Star Award
    • Based on families’ responses to the NRC Real-Time Patient Experience Surveys, this award is given monthly to the top-rated provider over the last 12 months


Children’s Mercy is proud to have earned recognition from a number of local, national and international organizations. Some of the honors recently received are:

U.S. News and World Report
Children’s Mercy has ranked in all ten pediatric specialties for five consecutive years.

Magnet Recognition
Children's Mercy Kansas City has earned nursing's highest honor, Magnet® Designation, four consecutive times.

NRC Health Improvement Best Practice Award 2019
The Improvement Best Practice Award is given to an organization that has implemented a best practice resulting in an achievement of outstanding performance in patient or resident-centered care and health care outcomes.

Healthcare Equality Index
Children's Mercy is one of only 302 healthcare providers nationwide to earn designation as a 2018 Leader in LGBTQ Healthcare Equality. Leader status is awarded to healthcare facilities receiving a score of 100 in the Healthcare Equality Index, the national LGBTQ benchmarking tool that evaluates healthcare facilities’ policies and practices related to the equity and inclusion of their LGBTQ patients, visitors, and employees.

Level 1 Children's Surgery Center
Children’s Mercy is one of only ten centers in the nation to be verified as a Level 1 Children’s Surgery Center — the highest possible rating — by the American College of Surgeons. Surgical care at Children’s Mercy is designed to manage routine to highly complex illnesses and involves experts in every pediatric specialty.