From Patient to Advocate

After her son Cyrus was born at 25 weeks gestation, Mindy Jacobs vowed to give back to the hospital that kept him alive

A photo of Mindy Jacobs and Cyrus Jacobs.
Mindy Jacobs, a member of the Patient and Family Advisory Council at University of Missouri Women’s and Children’s Hospital, and her son, Cyrus. Cyrus, now 7, was born prematurely and spent four months in the NICU. Jacobs joined the council in appreciation for the excellent care Cyrus received.

When taking a tour of the labor and delivery floor at MU Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Mindy Jacobs and her family never thought they would begin their journey to delivery so soon. But at 23 weeks, Jacobs was placed on bedrest for a high-risk pregnancy, and just 17 days later, she gave birth to her son Cyrus at 25 weeks, 3 days gestation.

For the next four months, Cyrus stayed in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and the step-down unit at Women’s and Children’s Hospital. Meanwhile Jacobs and her family navigated their way through the hurdles of having a micro preemie, or a baby born before 26 weeks gestation. To say that Jacobs is intimately familiar with the ins and outs of Women’s and Children’s Hospital is an understatement. Cyrus has made the rounds through pediatric emergency medicine, surgery, cardiology, neurology, gastroenterology, orthopaedics and therapy units, to name a few. 

Through it all, the experience with the doctors, nurses and other caregivers left a lasting memory for Jacobs. 

“I’ll never forget hearing the nurses laughing when we were in the NICU,” Jacobs recalls. “I remember thinking, ‘What a wonderful thing for babies to hear — happiness and laughter.’ I think hearing such a normal sound gave babies and parents hope.”

From then on, Jacobs knew she had to find a way to give back to the organization that helped keep her son alive. At the recommendation of a NICU social worker, she joined the Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC) to help identify ways to improve the patient experience for families at Women’s and Children’s Hospital. 

“The council shows that Women’s and Children’s Hospital is taking their job of listening to families very seriously.” - Mindy Jacobs, mother and council member

The 20-member council, including hospital staff members, patients and family members, is tasked with creating strong, lasting relationships to improve the health care experience for all involved. The council works to address issues in specific care areas to improve health care programs and policies necessary to ensure the best possible care for patients and their families. 

“The council shows that Women’s and Children’s Hospital is taking their job of listening to families very seriously,” Jacobs says. “I truly feel that the ideas the council has brought forth have been met with enthusiasm and have been taken to heart.”

In addition to listening to the experiences of patients and families and looking for areas of improvement, the council has been used as a resource to provide input during the NICU remodel. Patient involvement is essential to the success of Women’s and Children’s Hospital, and the council is an outward demonstration of that commitment to the patient experience. 

“We want patients and their families to know that we are here to listen to them and advocate for their needs,” says Gayla Maier, registered nurse at Women’s and Children’s Hospital and co-staff coordinator for the council.