Engaging patients and families during a pandemic

By Laura Miller posted 04-11-2020 10:38


What day is it? That’s a question I’ve been asking myself a lot lately, as I’ve been working from home since St Patrick’s day. I started a new job in January, with the Patient and Family Engagement (PFE) Team from Children’s Mercy Kansas City and it’s been a whirlwind adventure. In January, the Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl, prompting a massive parade route that ran immediately adjacent to the hospital. In February, The Joint Commission survey team arrived for their four-day visit. And March, well… we all know that story. Children’s Mercy Kansas City is beyond lucky to have Jodi Coombs as part of our executive leadership team, who has been tasked with spear-heading each of these massive events, including COVID-19. We’re a stronger organization because of her calm, steady and direct governance in her role.

So, here I am, restricted to a make-shift home office, doing my best to engage patients and families during a global pandemic. First things first: for all the health care staff and allied employees who are NOT at home, but are working extended shifts in the hospital, thank you. It seems so inadequate to say but thank you. Watching the nightly news and social media posts showing nurses and healthcare workers with mask burns on their cheeks, looking exhausted to their bones illustrates what a sacrifice you are all making during this unprecedented time. Thank you.

Children’s Mercy Kansas City has 17 Patient Family Advisory Councils (PFACs) which typically meet monthly in the hospital, with over 220 Patient Family Advisors (PFA) who contribute their expertise and passion annually to the hospital. This month, the PFACs pivoted to virtual meetings without missing a beat. Our PFE team created a tip sheet and email template for our PFAC leaders to help the transition, and provided hands-on guidance with each team to support their continued efforts. Below is an example of the email template we provided to our PFAC leaders.

So, as I continue to sit in the safety of my house to do my job, I say thank you and stay safe, to all you nurse and leader warriors!  

Laura Miller



LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/lauramiller7


Dear XXXX PFAC Members,

We miss you and hope that you and your loved ones are hanging in there during this crazy time. We will be hosting a group video chat next DAY/DATE/TIME, to give you an opportunity to check in with each other, share your highs and lows, offer up a suggestion on what’s working best in your family situation right now, and seek ideas and best practices from your fellow PFAC families. We will meet for one hour for the sole purpose of supporting each other – there is no agenda for this call. The social worker will attend the call to help address concerns you may have, and to bring your questions back to the clinic team to be answered.

The meeting will be held virtually through Microsoft Teams.  If you have used Teams before, click on the link below to join the meeting with video.  Please note you may also call into the meeting using the phone number below (this would be without video).   

Click Here to Join Microsoft Teams Meeting

If you have not used Teams before, here are the links to download the app to your phone or computer:


Here are some tips on virtual meetings:

  1. Utilize your camera option, if possible. Since we can’t meet in person, we’d love to see you virtually! 
  2. You may use headphones with a built-in microphone, if you’d like.
  3. Use your mute button when not speaking, to eliminate background noise, echoing and feedback. Remember to unmute, when you have something to say! Many of us may be attending this meeting from home, surrounded by children, pets, partners and others, where background noise is understandable and expected.
  4. We will start the call with introductions, so everyone knows who is on the call. 
  5. Virtual meetings sometimes have unique challenges, like intermittent internet or wireless connectivity issues, that make it a little harder to hear.


Thank you for your willingness to try out this new platform for meeting virtually.  Please feel free to give us feedback on ways we can improve in the future. 

We look forward to connecting with everyone next week.  If you have any questions, feel free to call or text me on my cell: XXX-XXX-XXXX




04-20-2020 14:35

Thank you for sharing such a valuable resource!

04-11-2020 10:44

This is such great information!