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Beth Kasulaitis

Beth Kasulaitis got a lesson in how mattresses were made that day.

She learned how the memory foam technology in one was developed originally for use in outer space. She saw how another moved air to different areas in response to pressure. “But more than how it was built, I was interested in how it felt,” she says.

Kasulaitis was one of the patient family advisers recruited to help choose enhanced mattress table pads for the operating room at Emory University Hospital. The pads keep patients comfortable and secure after surgery and help them avoid pressure ulcers that often occur when one is bed-bound.

Getting patients and families involved in nuts-and-bolts decisions like choosing mattresses is a goal of Emory Healthcare. Patient family advisers help leaders and staff improve the health system even down to the beds.  Who better to try out the new pads than the people who are going to use them? Kasulaitis asks.

She herself was in one of those beds just two years ago, recovering from a liver transplant. When she woke up after her transplant, she was delighted to hear, “You made it.”

From that moment on, Kasulaitis wanted to share her experience. “I felt like the people at Emory embraced me and lifted me up,” she says, “and I wanted to make sure that no other patient ever walked through this alone.”

Today she is the lead mentor for liver transplant patients at Emory, serves on the Patient Family Advisory Council, and volunteers for other transplant organizations. Hospital CEO Bob Bachman has dubbed her the “Jiminy Cricket,” or the conscience, of Emory Healthcare. She helps administrators and staff understand the patient’s point of view, evaluates bedside shift change procedures, serves on editorial boards, and once in a while, chooses a good mattress. –Rhonda Mullen

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