Volunteering at RUSH Copley is something Dawn D’Orazio is passionate about. As a member of RUSH Copley’s Patient and Family Advisory Council, she never leaves a meeting without feeling energized.
“I like being part of a team that provides such an important voice,” Dawn says.
Tasked with improving patient experiences by strengthening collaboration between patients, their family members and the health care team, the council is composed of patients, family and community members and hospital staff. Their mission is to ensure that the voices of patients and families are represented.
Advocating for the community
D’Orazio joined the council in 2019 because of her desire to make the medical experience as easy as possible for patients and their family members. Because she and her family members have been patients, she has learned about advocating for herself and her family and is glad to have the opportunity to expand that advocacy to the whole community.
“Medical care is complex and daunting for a lot of people,” she says. “The council focuses on getting the best experience for everyone who comes to RUSH Copley. We’re there to give back and help make something better. We want to represent our community’s voices in a place where being heard is really important.”
Now community co-chair of the council, D’Orazio would like to see the group become more diverse, with more members from different geographic, ethnic and socioeconomic groups. “Their voices need to be heard,” she says.
Creating better experiences for patients
D’Orazio calls RUSH Copley a leader in getting community members involved and listening to what they have to say. Not all hospitals have patient and family advisory councils, she notes, but those that do earn better patient satisfaction scores, and having an advisory council is becoming a best practice for hospitals.
She loves hearing that the council’s input is creating better experiences for patients. One of its recommendations — the addition of a hearing or seeing icon to MyChart to alert medical staff that a patient needs a support person for one of these reasons — has gone systemwide and is now used at all three RUSH hospitals.
D’Orazio is a good ambassador for RUSH Copley, says Kim Lipsetzky, who works in the emergency department and serves as staff co-chair for the advisory council.
A chronic volunteer
“Dawn does everything with full heart and commitment,” she says. “She is creative, compassionate and gives 100% of herself to every task she takes on.”
Although the team meets once a month, D’Orazio typically spends 12 to 18 hours each month on her role. As co-chair, she also represents the council on the hospital’s Quality and Safety Committee.
A self-described “chronic volunteer,” D’Orazio says volunteers get paid in “feel goods,” but they also get a chance to know more about something. She believes the ability to change someone’s experience for the better makes volunteering worthwhile.
“We have such an amazing hospital in our own backyard,” D’Orazio says. “I can’t think of a better place to contribute my time.”