How Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital Sustained an Incredible Winning Streak

While Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood, Florida began its Planetree journey in 2013, the organization’s adoption of person-centered care started in 2002. An oncology patient’s father, inspired by his research into patient- and family-centered care, formed a Patient and Family Advisory Council and brought that philosophy of care to Joe DiMaggio. Person-centered care quickly resonated with the hospital, whose pet therapy program and pirate ship-shaped CT scan help children feel more comfortable in stressful times.

Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital wanted to create a healing environment, a home away from home. For many children who stay for extended periods, the hospital does become their temporary home. The organization implemented patient and family-centered care that culminated in their pursuit of Planetree Certification for Excellence in Person-Centered Care— the first children’s hospital in the world to earn that honor.

The Path to Excellence in Person-Centered Certification

In 2013, Planetree conducted a thorough evaluation of Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital. The report determined that Joe DiMaggio was in a good position to pursue certification, identifying measures of improvement while also validating the person-centered practices the hospital already had in place. One of the most revealing aspects of Planetree’s visits to Joe DiMaggio was how engaged and invested hospital staff were in the mission and philosophy of care, including executive leadership and the board of commissioners.

The Planetree team collaborated with Joe DiMaggio to fine-tune hospital processes and policies to meet each criterion. The hospital developed programs to nurture growth and professional development in their staff, while supporting their health and wellbeing. Through observations, Planetree demonstrated that employees at the children’s hospital felt accountable and empowered to do what was right for patients and families, even if that meant thinking outside the box. What caregivers had already put into practice, Joe DiMaggio codified into policy, enabling a staff-driven person-centered care evolution.

Putting Person-Centered Culture into Practice

The hospital’s focus groups filled fast, as the community was eager to discuss person-centered care. Advisors, medical staff, and families of patients—some currently receiving care, others discharged but excited to participate—spoke about their personal journeys with patient- and familycentered care, each from a unique perspective. This crucial input helped guide Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in its efforts to better care for its young patients, their families, and the entire hospital community.

One notable effort was a partnership with the adolescent behavioral health unit to make its physical environment more inviting, while providing families and social workers the resources they need to make the stay as productive and pleasant as possible. Initiatives included a pilot study using tablets to walk patients through their treatment plans, a diverse room service menu to make mealtime more joyful, and the creation of a Patient and Family Behavior Health Committee.
With all of these pieces in place, Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital began its application for Planetree Certification for Excellence in Person-Centered Care in 2015. In 2017, it was the first pediatric hospital in the world to become Planetree Certified.

Person-Centered Care Outcomes

While Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital began implementing patient and family-centered care practices years before applying, its partnership with Planetree helped solidify gains across all departments and maintain that quality consistently, where before there were greater fluctuations in achievement.

The NDNQI Nursing Satisfaction Survey has shown improvement across multiple departments since the hospital achieved Planetree certification, with staff reporting that they feel part of the bigger picture, that they can count on their colleagues, and that the work environment is gratifying.

“To this day, when our CEO talks about our Planetree Certification, she beams with pride and insists we point out the international distinction—we’re proud to count Joe DiMaggio among the best healthcare centers delivering patient- and family-centered care in the world. Our community is proud, our physicians are proud, and even our families are proud to get involved and have their voices make an impact.”
- Michelle Barone, Director of Patient- and Family-Centered Care

The hospital has seen an increase in volunteerism and community support, along with a burgeoning international reputation. Parents now call to ask how to bring their children to the hospital from other countries, including Brazil and Colombia. With that reputation has come several distinguished awards and accolades. In 2017, Joe DiMaggio was recognized as one of the Best Places to Work in Healthcare in Modern Healthcare Magazine for its 5th consecutive year. The hospital also earned the Press-Ganey Guardian of Excellence Award for its 5th consecutive year.

“Planetree Certification isn’t just an honor for us, but a responsibility to provide the best care every time, to every patient, every day. Always.”
- Bella Cabrera,  Chief Nursing Officer

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