Upstate News

August 7, 2009
Darryl Geddes 315 464-4828

Institute selects Upstate Medical University for work on implementing Patientsfirst! concept


Upstate Medical University is featured as one of six academic medical centers in the national report “High-Performing Patient and Family-Centered Academic Medical Centers,” published in July by the Picker Institute, a Boston-based independent nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the principles of patient-centered care.

The case study details how Upstate Medical University has begun to successfully incorporate the concept of patient and family centered care.

“We’re delighted by the recognition from this organization,” said Leola Rodgers, a University Hospital administrator who has played a key role in introducing this patient care philosophy throughout the hospital. “Perhaps our story on how we implemented this philosophy can assist others in this process.”

The construction of the new East Tower, which opened earlier this month, was part of the catalyst that led Upstate Medical University to incorporate the concept of patient and family centered care, according to the study.

At Upstate’s University Hospital, patient-family centered care is called PATIENTSfirst! and the philosophy stresses the partnerships between patients, families and healthcare providers. Hallmarks of the concept are greater participation by the patient and family in the planning and delivery of care, as well as family input on facility design and patient education programs.

The hospital’s visitation policy changed to enable a family member to spend the evening with the patient. It’s a comfortable night’s stay, especially in the spacious private patient rooms in the new East Tower. The various family amenities on each floor, such as lounges and kitchens, relate directly to the PATIENTSfirst! philosophy. The existing hospital rooms will be renovated into private rooms in the near future, providing patients’ families throughout the hospital with additional space, officials noted.

“The entire design and concept of the East Tower and our plans for the existing hospitals provides a terrific foundation for this care philosophy to flourish,” Rodgers said.

Planning for PFCC was done in four phases that included nurse and physician training as well as training for hospital leadership, outcome measurements and staff recognition.

The cause was aided by an initiative called Engaging Excellence that was launched by Upstate’s president, David R. Smith, M.D. This university wide dialogue sought input from across campus on key issues. PATIENTSfirst! emerged as one of the topics for quick implementation.

“PATIENTSfirst! is not simply a new program, but an integral part of hospital operations,” said Rodgers. “It’s a way of life that guides how we think, act and make decisions.”

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