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Council Charter

Vision Statement

By creating a patient- and family-centered culture that involves a collaborative partnership among patients, families1, hospital leadership, and staff, our patients will experience excellent clinical, compassionate, and supportive health care.

Mission Statement

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.

PFAC Council Responsibilities

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.

Structure and Membership

The PFAC will consist of up to 20 Patient Family Advisors from the community, representing the diversity of the Suburban Hospital community, and no more than 10 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.

Patient Family Advisor Application and Nomination Process

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.

Membership Criteria for Patient Family Advisors

  • 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 Nominating Committee

  • 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.

Terms of Appointment

  • 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.

Roles and Responsibilities

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.

Orientation and Training

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.

PFAC Meetings

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.


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.


1. “Family” means whomever the patient chooses as his or her “care partner,” whether a relative, life partner, friend, or paid caregiver. Family provides support, comfort, and important information during the hospital stay as well as when the patient returns home.

Last updated October 12, 2015.