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Patient-, Family-Centered Care Work Highlights Florentino Awards


By Bernard S. Little

WRNMMC Command Communications​

Projects focused on putting patients and families at the heart of medicine highlighted the Dr. Paul Florentino Patient- and Family-Centered Care (PFCC) Excellence Awards program May 3 at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

Navy Capt. (Dr.) Mark Kobelja, WRNMMC director, commended the work that staff, both active duty and civilian, as well as medical residents, presented at the program. “It’s extraordinary,” he said. He also described the projects as “amazing” and indicative of WRNMMC’s efforts in keeping patients and their families at the core of the medical center’s mission.

Work presented at the program explored Opioids Impact on Benefit from Spinal Cord Stimulator; Development of a Wellness Platform for Oncology Patients with Cognitive Complaints; Sexual Health and Intimacy Services at Walter Reed Bethesda; Implementation of a Family-Centered and Multidisciplinary Cardiogenetics Clinic; Automation of the I-PASS Tool to Improve Transitions of Care; Multi-Disciplinary Rounds on the Internal Medicine Wards; and Psychiatry Behavioral Health High Risk Management for Children and Adolescents.

U.S. Public Health Service Capt. Moira McGuire earned the first-place ribbon for her team’s project examining sexual health and intimacy for wounded, ill and injured service members and their spouses/partners. McGuire’s team concluded, “Exceptional efforts of a multidisciplinary team have led to improved specialized care and continuity in the area of sexual health and intimacy, enhanced care for wounded, ill and injured service members and their spouses/partners, improved quality of life, and all consistent with patient- and family-centered care tenets of collaboration, active participation, dignity and respect, and open and honest information sharing.”

Genetics counselor Lydia Hellwig earned second-place honors for her research involving implementation of a family-centered and multidisciplinary Cardiogenetics Clinic. “Before the Cardiogenetics Clinic was created, patients and providers alike were inundated with the challenges of inter-departmental coordination of multiple specialty visits in order to ensure proper care. With the Cardiogenetics Clinic in place, we have increased the quality of care provided while decreasing the number of specialty appointments required for these military families by 72 percent.”

Psychologist Laura Wandner, Army Capt. Sarah Ordway and Navy Lt. Thomas Mellor shared third-place recognition. Wandner researched opioids impact on benefit from spinal cord stimulator, and Ordway and Mellor researched multi-disciplinary rounds on the Internal Medicine Wards.

Dr. Lina Kubli, of the Paul Florentino PFCC committee, explained the benefits of patient- and family-centered care include an increase in the quality of care; greater trust between providers, patients and their families; and improved confidence in the overall health-care system resulting in better outcomes. The tenets of PFCC include mutual dignity and respect, unbiased information sharing, active participation from patients and families in their care, and open collaboration among practitioners and providers.

The PFCC committee along with the Department of Research Programs at WRNMMC conduct the PFCC excellence awards and program in honor of Florentino, whose career took him from work as an Air Force flight surgeon to deputy commander of medical services at the former National Naval Medical Center, a predecessor of WRNMMC.

Florentino helped guide the integration of NNMC and the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center to form WRNMMC, and he was a major contributor in shifting the paradigm of care from being primarily physician driven to physician, patient- and family-centered, acknowledging the pivotal involvement of the patient and the patient’s family in health care. He died in 2011 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. To continue his legacy, the PFCC excellence awards program is open to any WRNMMC department or team that initiates research, innovation, or process improvement to benefit patient- and family-centered care.

Francesca Bjorklund served as guest speaker at this year’s Florentino PFCC excellence awards program. The mother of twin girls with a health condition affecting their nervous systems and speech, Bjorklund advocates for PFCC. She explained that the successful health care of children starts at home as well as creating a partnership with medical, therapeutic and educational teams. She stated that with a team approach, children with challenges are better able to leap their hurdles and succeed in all facets of life.

Bjorklund credits WRNMMC Chief Experience Officer, Army Col. (Dr.) Catherine Kimball-Ayres, a pediatrician, along with other health professionals at the medical center with teaming with her in the care of her children, who now participate in the Special Olympics sporting events. “It is really the open communication that is built around respect and trust that has allowed this progress,” she said.​