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Patient and Family Advisory Council

Whether we’re purchasing new chemotherapy patient chairs or producing new education pamphlets, the Adult and the Adolescent and Young Adult Patient and Family Advisory Councils (PFACs) serve as an important resource to improve patient care and the overall experience at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of the University of Miami Health System (UHealth) Patient- and Family-Centered Care program. The Sylvester advisory councils serve as the voice of our customers –– patients and those who care for them.

If you’ve been a patient or caregiver at Sylvester, we invite you to help us improve how we meet the needs of our current and future patients and their caregivers. Through monthly meetings, our Councils are actively dedicated to strengthening collaboration between patients and the health care team. PFAC members are key to enhancing our ability to deliver the highest standard of safe, comprehensive and compassionate health care.

We are seeking new Council members to support our mission to deliver health care that’s responsive to the priorities, preferences and values of our diverse patient population.

Get involved

We welcome new applicants. To join or for more information, please contact us at or call 305-243-4570.

What Council members are saying:

“Through it all, the Sylvester family was there for me and my family. Because of my wonderful experience, I’ve had the honor to help other survivors and their caregivers through our Patient and Family Advisory Council. I have referred many friends and family to Sylvester.”
Jorge Calil
“I love all my doctors and the high-quality care I consistently receive at UMiami Health. There is no comparison with other institutions in South Florida. Everyone works together to make things happen for the patient –– no red tape, just health professionals who care.

Since joining the council, I’ve personally experienced noticeable improvement in efficiency, timeliness and improved customer service by staff. I’ve observed enhancements to the Uhealth patient portal based on some of our discussions. Additionally, access to survivorship information and programs has improved. I believe patient members do make a difference.”
Nancy Jaimes
“I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2011 and am now in my fourth “round” of the fight. I have come to know and like my doctors and other medical and non-medical support staff over the years. I’ve visited Sylvester an average of four times per month since 2019 for various appointments, so it just seemed natural for me to get involved in some volunteer opportunities to try to be supportive of Sylvester.”
John McGuire
“When you're a survivor, you know the extent of what you went through and want to make it easier for someone else. PFAC makes me proactive in my own care.”
Bonnie Cohen
“I was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer seven years ago, and thanks to Sylvester staff I'm well and still working at UMiami Health. When you’re on the staff side of the equation, you can lose insight into what patients are actually experiencing. To have a PFAC focused on that side of the equation improves the patients’ overall experience.”
Jonathan Corbett
“I live four hours away and can provide insight as a remote patient on how the technology has helped me feel connected to my medical team.”
Diana Fritz
“As a Latina, I've shared insights to help the organization better understand our unique needs, culture and fears –– emphasizing the importance of empathetic communication. Treating patients with humanity and fostering empathetic communication can substantially elevate the overall health care experience. Going forward, my dedication remains unwavering as I continue to advocate for a health care environment that is both compassionate and culturally sensitive.”
Andrea Suarez

The PFAC Mission

It’s not enough to provide expert care. Ensuring each patient’s cancer journey is compassionate, informed and culturally sensitive is crucial to meeting the needs of patients and their caregivers at Sylvester. The PFACs are a forum for patients, family members and caregivers to share feedback and ideas to improve the patient experience at Sylvester and UHealth.

Including the perspectives of patients and caregivers directly in the planning, delivery and evaluation of cancer care is the cornerstone for Patient- and Family-Centered Care.

Here’s how the PFACs work with Sylvester’s leadership and staff to improve patient care at the cancer center:

  1. Implement strategic plan: Help senior leadership identify issues and opportunities that have the potential to improve health care and service.
  2. Improve care: Recommend or refine solutions, services, programs, policies, communications and/or business strategies to meet patients’ and caregivers’ needs.
  3. Initiate: Develop creative, cost-effective solutions to problems and challenges at Sylvester.
  4. Communicate: Provide input on important initiatives like digital and print educational content.
  5. Partner: Promote respectful, effective partnerships between patients, caregivers, and health care providers, administrators and community members.
  6. Consult: Advise the hospital quality councils and committees, senior management and process improvement teams from the patient and caregiver perspective.

Core Concepts of Patient- and Family-Centered Care

Respect and Dignity

Health care practitioners listen to and honor patient and family perspectives and choices. Patient and family knowledge, values, beliefs, and cultural backgrounds are incorporated into the planning and delivery of care.

Information Sharing

Health care practitioners communicate and share complete and unbiased information with patients and families in ways that are affirming and useful. Patients and families receive timely, complete, and accurate information in order to effectively participate in care and decision-making.


Patients and families are encouraged and supported in participating in care and decision-making at the level they choose.


Patients and families, health care practitioners, and health care leaders collaborate with patients and families in policy and program development, implementation, and evaluation; in health care facility design; and in professional education, as well as in the delivery of care.

Current and recent projects

PFAC members participate as advisors on various projects for internal departments and committees. Following are some of those activities and accomplishments.

  • From cancer research to patient-facing clinical care, Council members provide valuable insight that enhances every program and initiative. The Council has improved the overall patient journey by advising on ways to support cancer prevention research, improve the patient experience and navigate survivorship at Sylvester.
  • When Sylvester researchers were designing a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute grant (PCORI), Council members offered valuable insight on how to conduct the research and then participated in the actual study.
  • The Council offered insight on how to increase patients’ comfort level during infusion.
  • The Council helps plan the annual survivorship symposium and other conferences.
  • When Sylvester's members were divided about the best tagline for a new education brochure, the Council selected the final version.
  • The Council made recommendations on the design for patient spaces in the new Griffin Cancer Research Building (GCRB) and new patient centers in Aventura and Doral. Designs for the cancer support services area and the welcome center for resources were all changed based on Council members’ feedback.
  • Council members also participate in health-system-wide PFACs. Examples include quality and safety committees, other diagnoses, and resources such as communications, facilities, and technology.

How to join

The Sylvester Patient and Family Advisory Councils comprise current and past patients, family members, caregivers and staff. Once you apply, we will conduct two phone or virtual interviews with the co-chair and one staff member. Council members chosen then need to agree to completing an onboarding process to become an in person or virtual patient advisor.

Ideal candidates are:

  • Able to articulate ideas clearly and ask questions
  • Able to see beyond personal experiences
  • Attend a monthly, one-hour virtual meeting and for members of the Adult PFAC, one quarterly hybrid meeting at the Miami campus, if able
  • Listen well and respect the opinions of others
  • Work with Sylvester staff on new and ongoing performance improvement projects

Member requirements

Members serve as the voice of the customer – our patients and families/caregivers. In this role, members facilitate family, caregiver and patient participation in hospital care and decision-making, information sharing and policy and program development.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Who is eligible to apply?

If you are a current or past Sylvester patient, family member or caregiver, we invite you to contact us at or 305-243-4570. We aim to maintain a diverse Council that represents the patient population we serve.

Q: What is the application process?

Once you contact us regarding your interest, we will conduct two phone or virtual interviews with a co-chair and a current staff member.

Q: I was treated outside of Sylvester. Am I still eligible?

Only patients and caregivers from Sylvester are eligible to participate in the adult or adolescent and young adult PFACs.

Q: What will I do as a PFAC Member?

Council members join monthly virtual meetings and quarterly in person meetings for those who have completed the in person onboarding process (virtual patient advisors will continue to participate on line). You may also be asked to participate in a project/initiative that may require additional time (1-2 hours per month).

Q: How long are the terms?

Terms are two years. Individuals will be polled at the two-year mark if they wish to continue serving on the Council and are in good standing.

Q: What if I return to treatment while I’m on the Council?

We do have current patients participate on the Council. However, some patients in active treatment may find this difficult. When necessary, some Council members take a break from active membership and rejoin the Council later. The Council member will need to submit a letter with their request to end their participation.

Q: What is the time commitment?

Monthly meetings are one hour. New members are required to complete an onboarding process before joining monthly meetings. For more information, contact Jessica MacIntyre (Miami)

Q: Will I be paid for my time?

Participants must be willing and able to volunteer their time.

Q: How do I offer suggestions if I’m not a part of PFAC?

You can send an email to the PFAC email. You may also join the E-Advisor program. You are not required to complete an onboarding process to be part of this program. For more information, contact Jessica MacIntyre (Miami) at
or 305-243-4570

Q: What are other ways to get involved?

You can share your story here. Participate in outreach events like the Dolphins Challenge Cancer.

Get involved

We welcome new applicants. To join or for more information, please contact us at or call 305-243-4570.