Patient care facilitators help patients and their families understand what to expect during a hospital stay

Patient care facilitators help patients and their families understand what to expect during a hospital stay

Paul Koscinski, RN, discusses patient plans of care with patient care facilitators Kellee Sorrell, RN, Heather Conrad, RN, and Crystal Ricketts, RN.

The patient care facilitator (PCF) is part of a growing strategy to transform patient safety and satisfaction and promote a culture of patient and family centered care at Christiana Care Health System.

John McMillen, MBA, MS, BSN, RN, nurse manager on a pilot program rolled out on 5C, a large medical unit at Christiana Hospital, says the program proved so positive that PCFs began working on 5A (medical) in January. In January 2013, a third group of PCFs will begin work on 5B (medical).

“We adapted the model specifically for the medical unit from evidence-based practice in other large health systems,” said McMillen. To develop a model, he and some Christiana Care colleagues visited a hospital in Peoria, Ill., to see firsthand how an existing PCF program program works.

In essence, the PCF is a care facilitator, patient advocate, nurse leader and nursing staff mentor.

“The PCF is like the CEO of a mini hospital,” McMillen said.

Skillful questioning and listening is at the heart of what PCFs do. That is how they determine the priorities for patients and their families. Each PCF is responsible around the clock for 10 patients, from the time the patient arrives at the unit until after the patient goes home or to another facility.

PCFs lead daily interdisciplinary rounds and collaborate with doctors and staff nurses on each patient’s plan of care. They partner with hospitalists to create strategies to meet patients’ goals.

“In all, we identified 10 gaps in care that PCFs would fill,” McMillen says. “Then we took what we had learned in Illinois and tailored that to meet our patients’ needs at Christiana Care.”

The program has already been linked to some impressive improvements for patients, such as significantly reduced complications related to avoidable deep vein thrombosis in units served by PCFs. Hospital-acquired infections also are down sharply. Compliance with vaccinations has peaked.

Patients also benefit because staff nurses spend more time at the bedside. Doctors can rely on a consistent point person. Patients feel safe and empowered because they understand their plan of care.