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Hospital Advisory Councils are Healing, Helpful

Author: Jessica Woolwine
Published Date: Wednesday, December 27, 2017

It’s Monday evening and I’ve parked in the CHKD parking garage, something I’ve done countless times since 2009. I head down the side stairs and into the cold night. The hospital lights shine as parents and children bundled in coats head in and out of the automatic doors.

A sense of relief washes over me. I’m here alone; no kids in tow. I’m not here for chemotherapy or an emergency department visit. There isn’t a post-surgery appointment or a scan that’s worried me for weeks. I’m here, walking into the hospital I know so well, by choice.

It’s my monthly CHKD Patient/Family Advisory Council meeting.

After Jackson’s cancer treatment I struggled to find an outlet for my grief and didn’t know where to share the plethora of medical experiences we had gone through. Then Abby was born so early and I gained even more knowledge. My brain was bursting at the seams.

So when the opportunity presented itself to join the CHKD NICU Family Advisory Council, I jumped at the chance. I thought it would be some volunteering in the unit or reviewing documents.

It’s been that and so much more.

It’s a group of patients and family members that, along with hospital leadership, discuss policies, communication, advancements, improvements and avenues for better family support. Family-centered care is the cornerstone of pediatric healthcare and advisory councils are integral to bridging the communication gap that sometimes occurs between providers, patients and families.

I served for two years on the NICU advisory council and it was an incredibly healing, priceless opportunity. I was able to give back, learn, suggest, create and improve. In the process, I made lifelong friends with other parents with similar journeys. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done.

In June, I joined the CHKD Patient/Family Advisory Council to support the initiatives of the entire hospital.

We’re always looking for parents with something to share. If you’re interested in giving back by sharing your hospital experience and knowledge, let us know!



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About Jessica Woolwine

Jessica Woolwine is a native of Hampton Roads and lives in Hampton with her three “miracles” Jackson (9), Abby (5) and Henry (1). As a mother to a childhood cancer survivor and a micro-preemie, she began the blog Mothering Miracles in 2014 to support other families dealing with health issues. Jessica also works as Creative Director for Rubin Communications Group and enjoys mixing her talents for graphic design and creative writing with community relations. She is a past member of both the CHKD Family Advisory Council and the CHKD NICU Family Advisory Council.