by Pat Kramer
Whether they live in Duarte, Calif., or New York City, cancer survivors and their families have one thing in common after cancer care: they want to give back.
Annette Mercurio, manager of patient, family and community education, has seen that throughout her time at City of Hope, and has been interested in drawing on patients’ and families’ personal experiences and knowledge to improve care for others.
“For some time, I had been interested in looking at ways we could have patients and families serve as our experts, giving us input on many decisions,” Mercurio said. “In our department, we have always utilized their input and expertise in all the materials we develop and the services we provide. I feel that services for patients and their families should also be driven by them.”
In April, Mercurio’s wish came true with the convening of the 12–member Patient and Family Advisory Council. The council has helped select artwork for patients’ rooms in Helford Clinical Research Hospital at City of Hope, evaluated existing patient resources and identified gaps and strengths in programs, materials and services.
“When we were designing new facilities, patients and families helped select the furniture that would be most comfortable,” Mercurio said. “Some family members have spent a lot of nights with their loved ones and they know what is needed and what is missing.”
Linda Bergman, a chronic myelogenous leukemia patient now in remission, joined the council to help others. “I believe that to work at City of Hope, you have to be a selfless, loving, caring and dedicated person,” she said. “I was so moved by the treatment I received that I vowed, when I got well, I would give back.”
The same is true for council member Bill Matteson, who underwent a bone marrow transplant (BMT) in 2002 for myelodysplastic syndrome and associated hematologic disorders. Since his BMT, Matteson has written a guide for patients about the experience. “I wanted to help send people into the process with a positive attitude,” he said.
Matteson believes the advisory council will let him use his experiences to help others. “I believe that a positive attitude and proper medical care are a powerful combination,” he said.
Larry Kidd, R.N., M.N., vice president of patient care services and chief nurse executive, believes the council gives the hospital important input toward improving the quality of care and services. He and Mercurio are working to involve the council in issues such as parking, food waiting times, improving the flow of treatment and patient safety.
“Nationally, health organizations are encouraging more partnerships between patients and their caregivers so that patients can take a more active role in ensuring the safety of their care,” Mercurio said. City of Hope leaders believe the council will identify improvements and make overall care more responsive to patients’ and families’ needs.
To provide input to the council, please contact Annette Mercurio in Patient, Family and Community Education at 626-301-8926 or ext. 64888.