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Council Serves as Patients’ Advocates


Peter Senft is well aware that volunteers can make positive changes for themselves and also for other patients at Bayhealth Medical Center.

An active member of the Patient Advisory Council for Bayhealth’s Kent General Hospital, Mr. Senft, of Dover, serves as a volunteer on the council, a group of roughly two dozen people who meet quarterly over dinner with Bayhealth staff representing the Patient Advocacy and Planetree departments.

Their mission: to improve the patient’s experience, bringing it into alignment with the Planetree mission of caring for body, mind and spirit, encouraging communication and empowering patients.

Some of the council’s members, like Mr. Senft, are Bayhealth patients themselves. Some have had not-so-pleasant experiences, yet are still committed to making positive changes. Others are former Bayhealth employees, and some are active Bayhealth volunteers in the hospital.

Steven Wadley, a Dover banking officer, chairs the Dover council, a group he calls “an exceptional group of people.”

Marianne Foard, MS, BSN, RN, Director of Patient Advocacy, Service Excellence and Professional Recruitment, is Bayhealth’s top-ranking liaison.

“We’re relying on your being the voice of the community, and your voice is taken very seriously,” Mrs. Foard told the group who assembled around a recent dinner served in the General Foods Conference Room at Bayhealth Kent General.

Dover’s Patient Advisory Council has solidified to the point where Mrs. Foard says subcommittees will soon form to better serve the patients and the group itself, but she would like to see growth in Milford’s Patient Advisory Council.

In the future, the Dover-based Council has decided to tour the Kent campus expansion and also invite physicians as guest speakers to their quarterly meetings.

“If we are community liaisons, we need to meet these people,” said Vicki Erb, of Wyoming. Mrs. Erb has served on the council for three years and is an active volunteer at the hospital.

 Patient Advisory Council members may talk about topics that are not life-or-death matters, such as quiet hallways at night or lack of reading material in waiting rooms, but Bayhealth leaders know that these seemingly small details can make an enormous difference in a patient’s perspective of quality hospital care.

“We’ve seen a paradigm shift to where we’re getting more compliments than complaints. We track it daily,” said Mrs. Foard.

After they are discharged, patients are randomly surveyed about the quality of care.

“I’ve seen tremendous improvement in the past seven years,” said Mr. Senft.

“My appreciation is seeing positive change. Everyone, from the nurses to CNAs, does a fantastic job. The change is just incredible. Everyone works as a cohesive unit.”

Jo Ann Glenn, Manager of Patient Advocacy announces further development of the Milford Patient Advisory Council and is seeking members form the Milford Community or surrounding areas to join. The advisory group at Milford will continue its focus on providing the patient perspective and contribute to the overall patient experience. Interested community members are encouraged to contact Jo Ann at 302-430-5898 or by email at joann_glenn@bayhealth.org.

Shown in the front row from left are: Betty Hill, Vicky Erb, Steven Waidley, Tammy Lang, Patrician Edwards; Middle Row: Erin May, Andrea Carter, Jennifer Roe, Dorothy Vowels. Back Row: Bob Norquest, Peter Senft, Jim Erb, David McWethy, Mike Snodgrass.

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