Patient and Family Advisory Council

Patient and Family Advisory Council

Karmanos Patient & Family Advisory Council


The Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC) at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute is dedicated to promoting and facilitating the delivery of the most comprehensive and compassionate health care for cancer patients, survivors and their extended families. The PFAC will serve as patient and family advocates to Karmanos Cancer Institute leadership.


We are committed to work in active partnership with Karmanos leadership and health care staff to:

  • Act as advocates for patients, their families, caregivers and health care providers.
  • Raise awareness of programs, services and support resources.
  • Challenge Karmanos Cancer Institute to provide the most comprehensive oncology programs, services and policies.
  • Strengthen communications and collaboration among patients, their families, caregivers and to the community

"It's important that Karmanos Cancer Institute gets input from patients and families regarding policies, organizational directives and initiatives because almost anything a hospital does is directed to patient care and improved outcomes. PFAC is the ideal forum for providing this input"
- Howard Katz, PFAC member since April 2015.


The PFAC shall represent the diversity of its membership by cancer type, and without limits to gender, age, cultural diversity, religious or spiritual beliefs and social economic differences. All PFAC members shall be Karmanos Cancer Institute cancer survivors or primary caregivers and representative staff. The PFAC believes membership diversity is central to the success of its mission.

Structure of the Council

Chair: Larry Brown
Co-Chair: Bill Winkler
Facilitator: Valerie Fred

The PFAC consists of:

  • Fifteen to 20 patients, family members or caregivers who have routine contact with health care staff at Karmanos.
  • Senior Karmanos Cancer Institute staff members including the Vice President of Patient Services/Chief Nursing Officer and President.
  • A Karmanos Cancer Institute facilitator

The minimum expectation for membership term is two years, with two renewable, consecutive terms at the discernment of the facilitator. Members should have routine contact with Karmanos and it’s operations in order to maintain relevant experience and exposure.

Member Appointment Process

Karmanos Patient & Family Advisory Council meeting

Members are appointed through an application process, followed by a review and recommendation of the Membership Committee. The committee and Karmanos administration will interview the potential member. Final approval may be made by the PFAC.

Members may be recommended by current and former Council members, Karmanos administration and health care providers, other Karmanos program constituents or through self-nomination. 

All PFAC members should reflect the spirit of patient and family advocacy and show a willingness to advise Karmanos on patient-related programs and policies.

If you are interested in joining the Council, click here.


The Patient and Family Advisory Council at the Karmanos Cancer Institute was founded in 1998. The initial group of 15 patients and caregivers were hand-picked by clinical staff who recognized that they had valuable ideas to help create the best cancer center in Michigan.

Throughout the years, the membership has changed, but the drive and passion to keep improving Karmanos for the next patient lives on. A plaque honoring all past and current members hangs in the Thomas Angott Board Room at Karmanos Cancer Institute where the monthly meetings are held. Valerie Fred, manager of regional operations at Karmanos, has had the privilege to lead this council throughout the past 20 years.

"As an immensely grateful patient, I want to help ensure all patients at Karmanos receive the same world-class care my husband and I receive. Utilizing my experience as a research advocate, I can share my understanding of the collective patient perspective to help Karmanos continue to deliver the highest level of patient-centric care, make ongoing improvements as necessary and continually strive to be better"
- Marcie Paul, PFAC member since February 2017


Current Projects:

  • Creating PFAC verbiage to be placed on brochures/literature reviewed and approved by the Council
  • Determining additional audiences for Women's Wellness Clinic presentations
  • Providing insight/suggestions into Wertz Infusion improvements

Past Projects:

  • Developed patient-to-patient tip sheet
  • Reviewed billing letters for patients
  • Challenged leaders on quality metrics
  • Reviewed patient chemotherapy brochure
  • Provided feedback to dietary, housekeeping, website and many other areas
  • Created/updated bylaws
  • Taste tested for dietary supplement options
  • Photo contest selection for artwork placed on all five nursing units, as well as the Dresner Clinic
  • Helped select patient furniture
  • Community advocates for Karmanos
  • Revamp phone triage at Weisberg
  • Clinic improvements based on process review to aid in improved patient communication
  • HOPE bags provided to new patients over an 18 month period
  • Reviewed and updated Patient Portfolio
  • Brochure review and approval
  • Analyzed environment satisfaction scores and provided insight into perception of cleanliness and quiet
  • Consulted with dietary for improved services and options.


Karmanos Patient & Family Advisory Council awards
  • The Karmanos PFAC was named a 2017 Hero of Cancer. The group was honored with the Community Service Award for assisting in efforts to reach the community with the importance of cancer early detection, cancer care and/or survivorship at large in a volunteer capacity.
  • The Karmanos PFAC was featured by the Michigan Health & Hospital Association.

Additional Information

For additional information, please contact Valerie Fred, MSA at or call 313-576-8676.