8600 Old Georgetown Road | Bethesda, MD 20814

Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC) Charter

Vision Statement

Our vision is that Suburban Hospital patients will have a successful, compassionate, and supportive
health care experience. To achieve this, collaborative involvement of patients and families is
essential and welcomed by Suburban Hospital’s leadership and members of its staff.

Mission Statement

The PFAC is dedicated to enhancing the quality and success of patient care by providing ongoing
insight into actual patient and family experiences, fostering an atmosphere and utilizing approaches
that encourage and enable collaboration among all parties, and working to imbed patient- and
family-centered care into hospital policies, procedures and programs.

Council Responsibilities

Identify: Identify existing best practices in patient- and family-centered care, including both those
within Suburban Hospital and those from other sources, and share those across the organization.

Advise: Work in an advisory role to enhance patient- and family-centered care initiatives at Suburban
Hospital by collaborating with existing hospital committees.

Support: Support staff and Suburban Hospital leadership in patient-and family-centered activities
and initiatives. Act as a sounding board for implementation of new programs and existing programs
across the hospital.

Participate: Provide patient/family member representation on committees, councils, and work
groups including, but not limited to, PFAC, patient safety, quality improvement, facility design,
service excellence, ethics, and education committees.

Represent: Represent patient and family perspectives about the healthcare experience at Suburban
Hospital and make recommendations for improvement.

Educate: Collaborate with Suburban Hospital staff to facilitate patient and family access to
information. Influence and participate in Suburban Hospital’s staff orientation, patient/family
education, and discharge/transition planning.

Evaluate: Evaluate the role of the PFAC in improving outcomes for patients and their families while at
Suburban Hospital.

Structure and Membership

The PFAC will consist of 10-15 patient family advisors from the community, representing the diversity
of the Suburban Hospital community, and no more than 8 Suburban Hospital staff. The PFAC will
be led by two Co-Chairs, one of whom will be a patient family advisor and one will be a hospital
staff member. The Chief Nurse Officer, or his/her designee, and the Director of Service Excellence,
or his/her designee, will be members of the PFAC. The Co-Chair terms will be two years, which may
be renewed through the renomination process for multiple terms.

Nomination and Application Process

Recruitment of PFAC members will be initiated by referral from all disciplines including Suburban
Hospital staff and physicians, as well as from current PFAC members. Periodically the opportunity to
serve on the PFAC also will be announced in the newsletter sent to the community. If you would like to join the Patient and Family Advisory Council, please fill out this membership application.

Membership Criteria

  • An applicant or their family member must have had a recent Suburban experience (within last
    two years).
  • Consideration will be made to maintain a diverse PFAC representing our diverse patient
  • Member must be able to fulfill the Roles and Responsibilities of the PFAC.
  • Commitment to serve for a 2 year term with potential to renew or step down at the end of
    the term.

Terms of Appointment

  • A subgroup of the PFAC, including the Co-Chairs, will review the applications and select
    members of the PFAC and also decide on reappointments.
  • The term of membership and reappointment will be two years. Council members may request to be reappointed.
  • Resignation will be submitted in writing or via e-mail to Suburban Hospital PFAC Co-Chairs.
  • Vacancies may be filled during the year as needed.

Roles and Responsibilities

Patient and Family Council Members:

  • Attend each PFAC meeting, attend via teleconference if unable to attend in person, or notify
    the Co-Chairs in advance if unable to participate.
  • Drawing on the member’s own experience as a patient and/or family member, provide
    feedback to the hospital about the patient and family experience at Suburban and ways it
    could be improved.
  • In collaboration with the hospital, 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.
  • As requested by the hospital and based on the member’s availability and interest, serve on
    other hospital committees.
  • Engage thoughtfully and constructively around the issues and ideas discussed during each
  • Be respectful of the unique background and perspective of each PFAC member.
  • Be realistic and mindful of good health care practice and the hospital’s budgetary, regulatory,
    and legal constraints.


  • Lead each PFAC meeting.
  • Communicate activities and recommendations of the PFAC to the leadership of Suburban

Outputs of the PFAC

  • The PFAC will issue an annual report and provide regular updates to Suburban Hospital
    leadership (See below).
  • The PFAC may engage in a variety of information gathering activities such as open discussion
    with patients and family members, including focus groups, surveys, and open forums.
  • The PFAC may engage in educational and policy making forums.
  • The PFAC may serve as community liaisons, engaging patients and families in the community.
  • Members of the PFAC may also serve on other committees as appropriate across the hospital

Orientation and Training

All selected patient and family applicants will receive orientation and training as to the mission and
goals of the institution and the advisory council, as well as hospital regulatory and privacy issues.


PFAC members will sign a confidentiality statement. PFAC members must 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. Any materials containing such
information must be handled carefully so as to protect that information from disclosure. PFAC
members must adhere to all applicable 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

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 Minutes: The designated staff/employee will distribute the minutes in a timely
manner to all PFAC staff and PFAC members. Council minutes will be retained for a minimum
of 5 years.

Attendance: It is expected that the members of the council will make every attempt to attend
every meeting during their term.

Inclement Weather: Meetings will be cancelled following the Montgomery County public
school closing announcements.


The Co-Chairs of the PFAC reserve the right to dismiss any member who is not compliant with
this Charter. If a member has missed three consecutive meetings without notifying the Co-Chairs, this will be considered a resignation from PFAC.


To view the 2013 PFAC Annual Report, click here.


Last updated June 12, 2012 at the Patient Family Advisory Council meeting.