On Oct. 26, BWHers gathered in Bornstein Amphitheater to celebrate the launch of the new Patient & Family Advisory Council (PFAC) for Gender and Sexuality, one of the first of its kind in the nation.
Consisting of patients, family members and employees who are patients, the council will focus on health care issues faced by LGBT patients, serve as a resource to staff and ultimately help improve the experience of all patients at BWH.
“The Brigham is a wonderful place,” said council member Barry Nelson. “Patients are looking to you as their care providers to have their best interests at heart and support their needs.”
Maureen Fagan, DNP, MHA, WHNP-BC, FNP-BC, associate chief nurse for the Connors Center for Women and Newborns-OB/GYN and executive director of the BWH Center for Patients and Families, spoke about the important role the council will play in collaborating with staff.
“Working together on issues of inclusivity is important for the BWH community and will help us learn and improve the care we provide to all patients,” she said.
The event included insightful remarks by Gary Bailey, DHL, MSW, ACSW, professor at the School of Social Work at Simmons College. He spoke about intersectionality, the study of intersections among forms of discrimination. Whether based on race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, abilities or socioeconomic class, forms of discrimination can be interrelated and result in injustice and inequality.
“What is good for those whom society has placed at the margins is ultimately in the best interest of all of us,” said Bailey. “I commend Brigham and Women’s Hospital for responding to the needs of all patients and families by seeking to better understand LGBT health care concerns.”
Martie Carnie, BWH senior patient advisor, spoke about the importance of creating a positive and welcoming environment. “We can’t always control the outcome of a patient’s care or diagnosis, no matter how hard we try. But we can control the experience people have here by treating everyone who comes through our doors with the utmost dignity and respect,” she said.
Since 2008, PFACs have been working to create an environment that fosters patient- and family-centered care across BWH and BWFH. There are currently 16 councils comprised of 95 patient and family advisors who serve inpatient and ambulatory populations, using their experiences to help inform the relationship between patients, families and staff. Most of the councils are geared toward a specific line of service, such as cardiology or neurology. However, the Gender and Sexuality PFAC will support all departments.
The council hopes to establish resources for clinicians and other staff to help them learn how to be more inclusive of every patient they care for. The council also plans to design and implement a series of community-wide conversations to foster ongoing dialogue about inclusivity.
As part of the event, BWH launched a social media campaign, inviting staff and the public to come out as allies in support of the LGBT community.
The council is currently recruiting members. To join or recommend a patient, family member or colleague, or to ask the council a question, email Maureen Fagan at firstname.lastname@example.org.