March 8, 2012

Adams named to chair Family Advisory Council

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Kara Adams is the new chair of the Family Advisory Council for the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. (photo by John Russell)

Adams named to chair Family Advisory Council

Kara Adams felt so passionate about the care her son received seven years ago at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt that she moved from Hawaii to Nashville.

And Adams still carries that passion with her as new chair of the Family Advisory Council (FAC), serving as an advocate for children and families as Children’s Hospital continues to experience tremendous growth.

The FAC was integral in the construction and opening of the freestanding Children’s Hospital. Members weighed in on building designs and planning. They have remained a strong, positive voice, promoting patient and family-centered care.

Adams succeeds Monica Urness, who took the reins in 2004 after then-chair Holly lu conant rees stepped down after leading the group through the opening of the freestanding hospital.

“I have big shoes to fill. Monica is such a wonderful person and serves as such a great example for all of us on the council,” said Adams.

Urness spent years in and out of Children’s Hospital with her son who was diagnosed with leukemia at age 4 in 1995. Although Devin, now 20, has been off treatment several years, Urness remained active on the FAC and at the hospital. Devin continues to receive care at the Survivorship Clinic and his siblings also receive care at Children’s Hospital. Urness will continue to serve on the council as past-chair.

“My goal, and one of the many goals of the FAC, is to take our collective experiences and use our insight and passion to work together with the hospital to learn from each other and constantly remember that there is a real child and family behind each illness, test, lab work, diagnoses, prescription, etc.,” Urness said.

“I am thrilled to see Kara Adams take on the role as chair and Teri Edmonson as chair-elect. They, along with Janet (Cross), will be a dynamic and compassionate leadership team.”

Adams wants to build on the accomplishments under Urness and to help families be more engaged in their children’s care.

“The family advisory council is a voice for all families, and that is a huge responsibility that we take very seriously,” she said. “When we are asked to be involved in projects, we want to have a positive voice with integrity. We don’t want to change Vanderbilt. We want to make an already great place even better.”

Adams came to Children’s Hospital to seek care for her unborn son, who was diagnosed with a rare, complex congenital heart disorder. She lived in Hawaii where her husband, who is in the military, was stationed. No hospital on the island could provide the care he would need. The couple decided Nashville, where they had relatives, was the best place to be.

Her son, Kael, had his first open-heart surgery at 8 days old, and was among the first babies to be an inpatient in the Children’s Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit when it opened. Now 7, he continues to receive care at the hospital.

“We feel so strongly that this is where we needed to be,” Adams said. “Not only are we receiving world class health care with world class doctors, but the relationships we have built, my son has built, within these walls are very special.”

Families’ have experiences and unique perspectives that are invaluable to the mission to care for all children, said Janet Cross, director of Patient and Family-Centered Care at Children’s Hospital.

“Their observations, insights, and ideas are powerful tools for enhancing quality. When families work side-by-side with professionals to design and implement programs, both are enriched,” said Cross.

“As a group the FAC has a synergy that works together to develop new ideas, to provided constructive feedback to programs and practices and to share their stories with our communities.”