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What New Yorkers need to know about CABs, PFACs & YACs


  • Bellevue South Lobby. Photo: NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue

Meeting schedules

Bellevue Hospital CAB

Fourth Wednesday of the month, 6:00 pm

Lenox Hill Hospital/Northwell Health PFAC

Last Thursday in Jan/Mar/May/July/Oct/Nov, 5:30 pm

Mount Sinai Hospital YAC

Second Thursday of the month, 5:30 pm

NYU Langone Health PFAC

Second Thursday of each month, 4 pm

Note: CAB/PFAC/YAC meetings often skip a summer month

Since 1969, every New York City public hospital has been required to have a Community Advisory Board (CAB) comprising past or present patients, community residents, and a representative from the local community board. In 2011, Dick Gottfried, chair of the NYS Assembly Health Committee, introduced a bill to require a similar group at every hospital in the state. The bill sailed through the Assembly but wasn’t even brought up for a vote in the Senate, a situation Gottfried thinks may change with the new legislature. Meanwhile, New York City’s voluntary non-profit hospitals have been introducing their own version of a CAB: PFACs (Patient and Family Advisory Councils).

Unlike community boards, which play a mandated role in some legislative and regulatory areas such as land use, CABs and PFACs are strictly advisory. But New York State law requires each voluntary non-profit hospital periodically to adopt and update a community service plan. Gottfried says that should include consultation with the PFAC.

Even without new legislation, hospitals often agree.

For example, ten years ago, when Louise Dankberg joined the Bellevue CAB, she had no idea she’d end up chairperson for five years. During her tenure, she was proud to lead a group that “not only identified patient complaints but succeeded in quality-of-life projects such as keeping open a low cost diner and gift shop for patients, staff and visitors.” In short, Bellevue CEO William Hicks takes his CAB seriously, praising it for “urging us to try harder, to be better and to strive for the best in quality and service for all who present to the hospital.”

Two blocks up First Avenue at NYU Langone Health’s PFAC, the sentiments are similarly sunny. “During an extended patient experience,” says Keith Cunningham, “I quickly ascertained the need to be an assertive advocate for my own care plan and recovery and began offering advice to the staff and other patients. Being on PFAC has been an incredibly rewarding chance to help improve the system.” Kimberly Glassman, NYU Langone’s Senior Vice President for Patient Care counts her hospital “fortunate to have individuals like Keith whose insights help make us a better care provider and a more valuable resource to those who turn to us for help.”

Ditto at Northwell’s Lenox Hill. “No system is ever perfect,” says PFAC member Jordan Klemons, “but Lenox Hill Hospital did such an incredible job taking care of me and getting me back on my feet again, I felt it was my responsibility to help them continue improving for all future patients.” Appreciated, says Joe Leggio, Associate Executive Director, Patient & Customer Experience. “The PFAC is our guiding voice in designing how everyone should experience health care.”

In 2015, the Mt. Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital expanded the CAB/PFAC family with a YAC (Youth Advisory Council) to address the specific needs of pediatric patients. “As an active member of YAC,” says one young member, “I have been able to help give a perspective on how children feel when they enter a hospital.”

Morgan Stojanowski, assistant director of the Child Life and Creative Arts Therapy Department, names one such important YAC observation: the need for accessible language translation services. “Leadership responded immediately,” she says, “distributing 50 dual handset translator phones throughout pediatrics, providing additional Language Assistance in-services to medical staff, and introducing enhanced video interpreter services.”

Clearly, CABs and PFACs are popular, so popular in fact, that one member actually appointed himself. In the late 90s, as chair of Brooklyn’s Community Board 13, Marty Levine was barred from a Health and Hospitals meeting at Coney Island Hospital. “A couple of weeks later,” he says, “I learned that every HHC facility was mandated to have a CAB and that as chairman of the community board I had the authority to appoint someone to the hospital’s CAB. So I appointed myself and walked in. I’ve been a member ever since.”

What are you waiting for?

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