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Patients, families at heart of new ‘Promise’ campaign

Dec. 13, 2012, 9:05 AM

Attendees of last week’s Winter Clinical Enterprise Leadership Assembly sign a banner-sized copy of the new Vanderbilt Patient and Family Promise. (photo by Susan Urmy)

Vanderbilt University Medical Center is taking its commitment to a patient-centered experience to a new level through the Vanderbilt Patient and Family Promise, a six-point commitment statement being rolled out publicly in February.

The Promise, written with guidance from members of the patient and family advisory councils, clearly states what patients and family members can expect when receiving care or services at any Vanderbilt location. The Promise is built upon the foundation of the faculty and staff Credo behaviors and is an external reflection of the Credo to patients and family members. It pledges that Vanderbilt faculty and staff will:

• Include the patient as the most important member of the health care team
• Personalize care with a focus on the patient’s value and needs
• Work with patients to coordinate their care
• Respect patients’ right to privacy
• Communicate clearly and regularly
• Serve patients and their families with kindness and respect

During December and January, the Promise will be communicated to staff and faculty. It will be displayed in public areas, on the VUMC website and in patient materials beginning in February.

The Promise will be accompanied by a statement welcoming feedback through the Office of Patient Relations at or calling 322-6154.

Members of the patient and family advisory councils attended last week’s Winter Clinical Leadership Assembly, where they were thanked for their commitment to VUMC. The Promise has been in the works for more than a year, and has undergone 10 draft versions getting to the final language.

Kara Adams, whose son, Kael, was born with a rare and complex congenital heart defect, said in a video presented at the Leadership Assembly that the first point of the Promise is the most meaningful to her.

Tracy Harper, whose 9-year-old daughter was born early, said that she believes the fourth point, respect, is the most crucial. “Respect is the foundation of everything. Communication is important, but if you’re respectful, the others will flow.”

Adams and Harper are both members of the advisory council for the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.

Don McSurley, a member of the Vanderbilt University Hospital advisory council, said he believes all the points are crucial.

“It’s critical that all six of these points are part of the promise being made throughout the entire organization. That’s what delivers good medical care. That’s what brings us to Vanderbilt,” he said.

“We know we can’t be perfect,” said C. Wright Pinson, MBA, M.D., deputy vice chancellor for Health Affairs and CEO of the Vanderbilt Health System. “But this is what we aspire to each and every day with every patient and every patient encounter. It’s what we would want for ourselves and our family members if we or they were the patients. We’re taking the patient experience to a new level in our organization,” he said.

“We are committed to excellence. Our Credo dictates and guides our behavior and our interactions with our colleagues, our patients and our visitors. We’re taking it a step further with the Promise.”

At the conclusion of the presentation, Pinson invited faculty leaders and members of the administration to the stage to sign a banner committing to upholding the Promise. The banner was then moved to the lobby of Langford Auditorium where all attendees could sign as they left the Leadership Assembly. It will be displayed in February when the Promise is made public.

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