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At the core of care: The Center for Patients and Families

Dignity. Respect. Collaboration.

At Augusta University Health, these aren’t just words—they are part of the principles of patient- and family- centered care that every employee takes to heart.

Patient- and family-centered care is a philosophy that focuses on putting patients and their families first, while building partnerships between them and health care providers in order to improve quality, safety and satisfaction.

“When I hear the words patient- and family-centered care, it means not doing to a patient but doing with a patient,” said Julie Ginn Moretz, chief experience officer and associate vice president of the Center for Patients and Families. “To me, that shows inclusion and partnership. It’s the expectation for care here and has been since the early 1990s.”

Augusta University Health is recognized as a pioneer in patient- and family-centered care by the American Hospital Association and the Institute for Patient- and Family-Centered Care. Augusta University Health first incorporated the approach in 1993, when patients and families were involved in the planning and design of the Children’s Hospital of Georgia at Augusta University.

“Before it truly became part of the way health care is expected to be delivered, we came up with standards of care in collaboration with the Institute for Patient- and Family-Centered Care,” Moretz said. “Now these standards are something everyone is abiding by, which is great because we’re all in this together; we’re all about taking care of patients and their families.”

Patient- and family-centered care, however, is more than a philosophy at Augusta University Health—it’s a full department, recently renamed the Center for Patients and Families. The center serves as support for patients, families and staff; helps to develop initiatives to enhance work and areas of the hospital; collaborates with patient and family advisors; and works with clinicians on communicating with patients and families in an effective and respectful way.

“Patient experiences are improved, because they are part of the team and included in the conversation,” Moretz said. “They help us to ensure that we’re getting it right and meeting them where they are now.”

The four principles of patient- and family-centered care

  1. We treat patients and families with dignity and respect.
  2. We provide clear, comprehensive information in ways that are useful and empowering.
  3. We create opportunities for patients and families to participate in ways that enhance their control and independence.
  4. We ensure that collaboration is inherent in our policies, programs, education and delivery of care.

Patient- and family-centered care at work

When patients and families are actively involved in health care decisions, quality of care and patient satisfaction improves. For this reason, Augusta University Health has incorporated patient and family perspectives during the planning and design of various buildings and areas of the hospital.

A better perspective
To learn more about patient- and family- centered care at Augusta University Health, visit

About the author

Augusta University Health

Based in Augusta, Georgia, Augusta University Health is a world-class health care network, offering the most comprehensive primary, specialty and subspecialty care in the region. Augusta University Health provides skilled, compassionate care to its patients, conducts leading-edge clinical research and fosters the medical education and training of tomorrow’s health care practitioners. Augusta University Health is a not-for-profit corporation that manages the clinical operations associated with Augusta University.