System News

Perspective: The Patient’s Voice

Originally published May 7, 2024

Last updated May 7, 2024

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USC Health Magazine 2024 Issue #1

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Christine Valenzuela, a co-chair for the patient and family advisory council, smiles in a black turtleneck

As co-chair for the patient and family advisory council, Christine Valenzuela, a former Keck Medicine of USC transplant patient, serves as the patient’s voice.

Almost 11 years ago, my abdominal pains quickly progressed to liver failure. I was experiencing sepsis, I fell into a coma and my husband was told I had 48 hours to live — until my miracle happened.

A last-minute full-liver transplant at Keck Medicine of USC’s Transplant Institute gave me a second chance at life.

After my transplant, I felt it was my duty to pay it forward. For me, the best way to do that was to become an advocate for other patients.

I was inspired to take that route because, while I had an amazing family that supported me throughout my health scare, others aren’t as fortunate. I wanted to ensure that all patients have someone speaking up for them.

I started volunteering for Keck Medicine and now serve as co-chair of the patient and family advisory council.

The council’s mission is to serve as the voice of the patients. We meet with hospital leaders regularly to provide recommendations and firsthand insights into what would enhance the patient experience. We help administrators identify how resources could best be utilized to benefit patients.

I love how influential the council can be. It’s the best feeling to witness changes we recommended, such as upgrades to the discharge process, improvements to the parking system and adjustments that helped Keck Hospital of USC’s nursing team achieve Magnet redesignation — the gold standard in nursing excellence — in 2023.

There is always room for growth. The patient and family advisory council is here to ensure that the health system continues to provide high-quality care — and I’m proud to do my part.

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Erin Laviola
Erin Laviola is a freelance writer for Keck Medicine of USC.

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USC Health Magazine 2024 Issue #1

Read the current issue

Download PDF