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Patient and Family Advisory Council at Suburban Hospital

Suburban Hospital’s Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC) brings together community volunteer Patient Family Advisors (PFAs) and Suburban Hospital clinical, administrative and executive staff. The chief nursing officer, the Director of the Office of Patient and Family Experience and a PFA serve as co-chairs for the PFAC, which meets monthly to foster a culture of Patient- and Family-Centered Care (PFCC). The core concepts of PFCC are:

  • Demonstrating dignity and respect for patients and families
  • Providing information sharing with patients and families
  • Inviting patient and family participation in care and decision making at the level they choose
  • Facilitating collaboration with PFAs to develop, implement and evaluate policies and programs

(As originally defined by the Institute for Patient- and Family-Centered Care.)

How to Join

Community members with experience as Suburban patients or as family/care partners of Suburban patients, and interested in improving the care experience at the hospital are encouraged to apply to be a Patient and Family Advisor. Additionally, Suburban Hospital staff and current PFAC members are encouraged to identify potential Patient Family Advisors and invite them to apply.

To join the Patient and Family Advisory Council, please fill out the membership application (Adobe PDF and MS Word versions are available). For more information, call 301-896-3492.

The council co-chairs and select members will interview applicants and determine whether to recommend the applicant to the full council.

Our Accomplishments

  • The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) honored Suburban with Magnet recognition in May 2019, the nation’s highest standard for professional nursing practice. The ANCC cited the close working relationship between the nursing staff, PFAC and Patient and Family Advisor programs as an “exemplar.”
  • PFAs now participate on more than 50 hospital committees, councils and initiatives, demonstrating collaboration, a core principle of PFCC.
  • Suburban’s Intensive Care Unit received the 2018 Gold Award, and the Adult Medical and Oncology Units received the 2019 Platinum Award for demonstrating the implementation of core Armstrong Institute’s Patient- and Family-Centered Care (PFCC) best practices: 24/7 Family Presence, Bedside Shift Report, Multi-disciplinary Rounds at the Bedside and Option of Family Presence at Resuscitation.
  • PFAC organized a targeted conversation for underrepresented groups that gave patients, family members and care partners the opportunity to participate in a small group discussion on ways to improve the delivery of patient care and the patient experience.

Read more about our accomplishments in our 2021 PFAC Annual Report.

Council Charter

  • Mission

    • Promote the safety, quality, and positive experience of care.
    • Foster mutually beneficial partnerships among caregivers, clinicians, patients, and families.
    • Embed patient- and family-centered care into hospital policies, practices, procedures, and programs.


    By creating a patient- and family-centered culture that involves a collaborative partnership among patients, families, hospital leadership, and staff, our patients will experience excellent clinical, compassionate, and supportive health care.

  • Identify: Identify best practices in patient- and family-centered care in Suburban Hospital and the health care industry, and share these best practices across the organization.

    Advise: Work in an advisory role to enhance safety and quality of health care and the experience of care, by advancing the practice of patient- and family-centered care at Suburban Hospital.

    Participate: Bring the patient and family perspective to committees, councils, and initiatives including, but not limited to PFAC, patient safety and quality improvement, facility design, service excellence, ethics, and education committees.

    Support: Support staff and Suburban Hospital leadership in patient-and family- centered care activities and initiatives. Act as a sounding board for implementation of programs across the hospital.

    Represent: Represent patient and family perspectives about the health care experience at Suburban Hospital and make recommendations for improvement.

    Educate: Promote patient- and family-centered care education across the organization. Participate in the planning and implementation of staff, physician, and volunteer education and training as well as promote patient and family education. Collaborate with Suburban Hospital staff to facilitate patient and family access to individual health records and to Suburban Hospital’s safety and quality performance.

    Evaluate: Evaluate how patient- and family-centered care improves the quality and safety outcomes for patients and their families, and their experience of care.

  • The PFAC will consist of up to 24 Patient Family Advisors from the community, representing the diversity of the Suburban Hospital community, and no more than 12 Suburban Hospital Staff Advisors. The goal is to maintain a ratio of two Patient Family Advisors for every Staff Advisor.

    The PFAC will be led by two Co-Chairs: an elected Patient Family Advisor and an appointed member of the senior hospital leadership. The Chief Nurse Officer, or his/her designee, and the head of the Office of Patient and Family Experience, or his/her designee, will be members of the PFAC. Co-Chair terms will be two years, which may be renewed through the re-nomination process described below for multiple terms.

    Co-Chairs will select Staff Advisors to ensure multidisciplinary representation.

  • Suburban Hospital staff and current PFAC members are encouraged to identify potential Patient Family Advisors and invite them to submit the required application form.

    The Co-Chairs and several PFAC members selected by the Co-Chairs will interview applicants and determine whether to recommend the applicant for full PFAC approval. The Co-Chairs will distribute the application along with the basis for their recommendation to the PFAC for a vote. Approval requires a majority of the PFAC membership.

    • Have relevant experience as either a patient or family of a patient.
    • Contribute to maintaining a diverse PFAC, representing Suburban’s diverse patient population.
    • Able to fulfill the Roles and Responsibilities of the PFAC outlined in this Charter.
    • Commit to serve for a two-year term.
    • The Co-Chairs will select three to five PFAC members who agree to serve as the Nominating Committee for a one-year term.
    • The Nominating Committee will conduct all aspects of the Co-Chair election as well as the process of reappointment of PFAC members.
    • The Nominating Committee will invite PFAC members to nominate candidates for the Patient Family Advisor Co-Chair from among the current Patient Family Advisors. The election will be by written ballot at the June meeting or a special election meeting with adequate notice about the candidates and the election. Members will have the opportunity to submit, by email or mail, a proxy ballot received from the Nominating Committee in advance of the election. Selection will be by a majority vote of the entire membership.
    • The Patient Family Co-Chair will be elected for a two-year term, and may be re-nominated by the same election process as set out above.
    • The Nominating Committee will review PFAC members’ terms and requests for reappointment. If the Committee does not recommend reappointment of a member, the Committee will set out the basis for recommending against reappointment and submit their recommendation to the Co-Chairs for review and consideration. If the Co-Chairs agree with a recommendation not to reappoint the member, the decision will be provided to the member along with the basis for the decision.
    • The term of membership and reappointment will be two years. Council members may request to be reappointed. A member’s term begins the month following appointment to the Council.
    • Resignation will be submitted in writing or via e-mail to the Co-Chairs.
    • Vacancies may be filled during the year as needed.
  • Council Advisors:

    • Attend each PFAC meeting, attend via teleconference if unable to attend in person, or notify the Co-Chairs in advance if unable to participate.
    • Participate in projects and initiatives that take place outside of the regular PFAC meetings.
    • Use the member’s experience and insights to inform the hospital about the patient and family experience at Suburban and ways it could be improved.
    • Participate in a variety of information-gathering activities to understand others’ experiences, such as discussions with patients and family members, open forums, focus groups, and surveys.
    • Serve on hospital committees, councils, and initiatives.
    • Engage thoughtfully and constructively around the issues and ideas discussed at meetings.
    • Respect the unique background and perspective of each PFAC member.
    • Be realistic and mindful of the hospital’s budgetary, regulatory, and legal constraints.


    • Plan and lead each PFAC meeting.
    • Communicate activities and recommendations of the PFAC to the leadership of Suburban Hospital.
    • Work with hospital leadership and staff to identify ways for PFAC to collaborate on hospital committees, councils, and initiatives.
    • Empower Patient Family Advisors to be active participants in hospital committees, councils, and initiatives.
    • Review on an ongoing basis the literature on patient-and family-centered care and provide leadership and education for PFAC members and the hospital organization reflecting this ever-growing field of research and knowledge.
    • Prepare an annual report in collaboration with the PFAC members.
  • PFAC will provide all advisors with patient- and family-centered care orientation and training. Patient Family Advisors will also receive hospital orientation as to its mission and goals, as well as its relevant safety, privacy and confidentiality requirements. Patient Family Advisors will be required to obtain TB testing and an annual flu vaccination as is required for all hospital volunteers.

  • Patient Family Advisors will sign a confidentiality statement. PFAC members will not discuss or disclose any personal or confidential information about patients, staff, or hospital business with anyone other than PFAC members and hospital personnel working with PFAC. Members will protect confidential information from disclosure and adhere to all applicable federal HIPAA standards and guidelines.

  • Meetings will be held on a regular basis on a day and time that best meets the schedules of members. Meetings are open to non-members.

    Agenda: Meeting agenda will be set by consultation between the Co-Chairs, in consultation with PFAC membership, and will be distributed to the PFAC membership prior to each meeting.

    Meeting Minutes: The minutes will be disseminated in a timely manner to all PFAC members and will be retained for a minimum of 5 years. The archive of the minutes will be available in the Office of Patient and Family Experience.

    Attendance: All members of the PFAC will make every attempt to attend every meeting during their term and will notify the Co-Chairs if they are not able to attend a scheduled meeting.

    Quorum: A quorum is at least 50% of the patient and family advisors and 50% of the staff advisors.

    Inclement Weather: Meetings will be cancelled due to weather following the Montgomery County public school closing announcements.

    Termination: The Co-Chairs reserve the right to dismiss any members who do not fulfill their responsibilities under the Charter. If a member misses three scheduled meetings without notifying the Co-Chairs, this will be considered a resignation from PFAC.

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