Health group is listening to patients

Golden Valley officials say meetings effective

yamaro@mercedsunstar.comDecember 9, 2012 

Golden Valley Health Centers officials say they are reaching out to patients for their opinions and guidance to help improve health care services.

Last year, Golden Valley established Patient Family Advisor groups at six sites to gather feedback. The groups meet monthly to review the information that's been collected and discuss health care topics.

That idea came out of work that was done by the California HealthCare Foundation in 2009, said Felicia Batts, research program manager with Golden Valley.

The grant ran out this summer, but Golden Valley was able to sustain four of the six groups -- at two sites in Merced and two in Modesto, she said.

The Patient Family Advisor group at each site has heard about dental, diabetes and vision services. The advisers, who also are patients, had the opportunity to express concerns or challenges they've faced.

Each month, the topic and focus of the meeting varies, Batts said. "It's really tailored to the needs of the sites.

"We had issues at one clinic where the fax number was wrong, and it was creating a delay in patients getting their medications," Batts said, adding that the problem was resolved thanks to one of those meetings.

Being vocal welcomed

All of the groups come together twice a year through videoconferencing, Batts said.

"They are very vocal, and we welcome that," she said. "That's our little reality check on things. We really appreciate that. That's why I use the word opinion, because some might be about our strengths and others about areas that need to improve."

Golden Valley officials said they value what patients have to say because it is crucial for offering better services, especially with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, Batts said.

"With health care reform, we are moving into this era of patient-centered care," she said. "And what is at the heart of that is patients' voice. If you don't talk to your patients, you'll never get that voice in order to make your patient-centered care."

Christine Noguera, interim chief executive officer for Golden Valley, said the idea behind the Patient Family Advisor groups is to hear what works for them and what doesn't.

"To make sure that patients are involved in the development of our programs and the evaluation phase of what we are doing," she said.

Reporter Yesenia Amaro can be reached at (209) 385-2482 or

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