Patient Care Fund Process Begins in Los Angeles

Established in 1975 by residents who decided to forgo a salary increase so that the money could be used to establish an equipment fund directed only by the housestaff, the Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center and Harbor-UCLA Patient Care Funds are the oldest such funds in the country, and the model for resources that CIR members use at many of our hospitals. Today, the fund is $1.2 million per year for LAC+USC and $990,000 for Harbor-UCLA, and can be used for a number of different types of hospital equipment as well as quality improvement projects, decided on entirely by the residents and fellows.

Each year, departments and fellowships select a housestaff representative over the summer to submit applications for portions of the fund, which include such criteria as a description of the item or project desired as well as the urgency of the need and its impact on the hospital and patient care. These department representatives attend an informational session to learn how to submit paperwork to the hospital if their item or project is approved. The formal voting session, chaired by resident physician leaders, involves each department representative making a case to all of the other representatives for why their item or project should be approved. Every department and fellowship is allowed one vote. With millions of dollars in requests submitted, the process is competitive but also very collegial.

Requests range from a coffee maker and refreshments for oncology clinic patients to materials for a hysterectomy QI project, a recumbent bicycle for psychiatry patients, arthroscopic simulator equipment, and much more.

“This fund is an incredible asset to our residents, our hospital and of course, our patients,” said Dr. Ashley Prosper, PCF Co-Chair at LAC+USC and a PGY4 in Radiology. “Hearing about each department’s efforts to improve patient experiences in Los Angeles County was inspiring and heightened residents’ mutual respect for their colleagues. Having voted to approve items as inexpensive as crayons for child therapy and as expensive as a portable ECMO machine, I’m confident that our purchases this year will touch the lives of patients for many years to come. Co-chairing the Patient Care Fund has been one of the best experiences of my residency.

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