UNC Family Medicine Patient Advisory Council

As part of our commitment to being a certified patient-centered medical home, UNC Family Medicine works hard to include the patient voice in all activities. By providing input to faculty and staff in clinical process, research, and redesign & renovation of the Family Medicine Center, the Patient Advisory Council has made a huge impact in the department. If you are interested in hearing more about the council please let us know.

The mission of the UNC Family Medicine Center Patient Advisory Council (PAC) is to advise faculty and staff in their mission to develop and refine policies, practices, services and facilities to improve the healthcare experience.

PAC 2016-17

We are glad to be here as patients.  We represent the patient voice, and we're here to tell you -- the future of family medicine is bright!

The main purpose of the Patient Advisory Council is to bring the patient perspective into the patient-centered medical home. The PAC members serve alongside providers and staff on Family Medicine Center’s operational committees.  They give important feedback that has been instrumental to the improvement of all Family Medicine Center processes.

Meet the Patient Advisory Council Co-Chairs

Herb Davis.jpgHerb Davis
 has his training and degrees as an Embryologist, Public Administrator, as well as an Educational Administrator.  He has served at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for over thirty years, as a faculty member, academic advisor and administrator.

Serving as a member of the Family Medicine Center's Patient Advisory Council since its inception in 2012, Herb conveys the importance of individuality.  His main concern is that the providers understand that he and other patients are individuals, who not only have different health issues, but many levels of understanding, as well as preferences for communication and treatments.  He has served on the Renovation and Redesign Committee, as is currently serving on the Steering Team.

Herb has been a patient of the Family Medicine Center for over 30 years.

Meet the PAC Members

Val Atkinson.jpg Harold (Val) Atkinson has recently entered into retirement as of 2014.  Prior to, he served as an Adjunct Political Science Professor at North Carolina Central University from 2007-2014.   Val also served as the Business Officer at the North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, NC.  From 1983-1888, he served as the Assistant Administrator for Hospital Management Services for a 700-bed psychiatric hospital, Dorothea Dix Hospital in Raleigh, NC.

Not only has he served in educational and healthcare capacities, Val has also served his country, and is a retired Vietnam Army Veteran.

He earned his B.A. in Psychology at Columbia College, an M.A. in Business Management at Central Michigan University, and an M.P.A. in Public Administration at North Carolina Central University.

His provider, Dr. Koonce, recommended Val to the Patient Advisory Council.  Val accepted the offer because he believed his past service and experience as a member of the Patient Advocacy Council at Duke Medical Center would be helpful in the formation of a new Patient Advisory Council, at UNC's Family Medicine Center.   Val served as the first elected Patient Co-Chair of the UNC Family Medicine Center's Patient Advisory Council, from March 2012 to March 2015.

Val has been a patient at the Family Medicine Center for 15 years.


Gary Benjamin has been working with The UNC School of Medicine as a Standardized Patient.  Having been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of 1 , Gary felt it would bGary Benjamin.pnge beneficial to the medical students, to bring his experience and knowledge as a patient to Clinical Training.  He also volunteers at his church, assisting with music, sound and other technical and computer work.

Gary has been in the Chapel Hill area for roughly four years now.  He has been to several of the departments within the UNC medical system, and has had great experiences with everyone he has met.  Gary read about the Patient Advisory Council in the e-newsletter and decided to apply to join the Council.  Having been a patient for most of his life and plenty of experience with health care professionals, he is working to assist the patients of FMC to have a positive patient experience.

Gary realizes that while he is very happy with his health care, it might not be so easy for someone who doesn't have as much experience, or is facing something new, unknown, or even frightening.  As a patient with an extensive history, he can offer profound patient insight.

Gary joined the Patient Advisory Council in 2014, and he has been a patient at Family Medicine Center since 2013.



Dr. Stephen B. Friedman has 35 years experience working with biotechnology companies in a variety of roles.  He was both founder and director of R&D at Microgenics Stephen Friedman.jpgCorporation, founder and Sr. V.P. Research and Development at EnSys Inc., and founder, Board Director and Chief Scientific Officer at Syntherica Inc.  Steve's experience is supervising the research, development and commercialization of medical diagnostics, and environmental testing, technologies and products.  He is experienced in the efficient translation of technical innovation into commercial products.

Steve joined Family Medicine Center's Patient Advisory Council in 2014.  His interest is in improving patient care at an excellent institution, by resolving patient-specific issues that compromise medical results.  He is interested in defining a more holistic approach to medical care that will integrate real-life patient issues with professional medical guidance, in order to achieve a better outcome.  He serves on FMC's Clinical Systems Improvement committee.

Steve has been a patient within the UNC system since 1988, and a patient at the Family Medicine Center for 15 years.


Dr. Robert Gwyther is a retired family physician that has worked for the Department of Family Medicine since 1978.  He is also certified in addiction medicine.   Over the years, he has directed the residency program, the Family Medicine Center, medical student programs, and was associate chair of the department.

Bob joined the Patient Advisory Council at the request of the department leadership, to provide the committee with a physician who has experience and insight into the practice, and can communicate with the leadership if requested by the PAC.

Dr. Gwyther and his family members have been patients of the FMC practice since moving to Chapel Hill.



Charlie Lehmann has held senior positions in marketing, advertising, new product development, market research and consulting with the following companies:  IBM, Compton Advertising, General Foods, Campbell Soup, and Doyle Dane Bernbach Advertising.  He has also started two businesses:  Drossman Lehmann Marino, an advertising agency in New York City and Marketing Insights & Solutions, Inc., a marketing research and consulting business.

Charlie is currently a mentor with SCORE, a national organization of senior executives that provide counseling and mentoring to individuals who want to start businesses.  He has served as chairman of the Family Life Center in Newtown, CT, a non-profit organization that provided mental health services to the community on a sliding scale/fee basis.

Charlie joined Family Medicine Center's Patient Advisory Council in 2014.  His main interests in assisting FMC are through evaluating how care is delivered/improving patient care, as well as helping the health care staff and students understand what patients and families want from their health care team.  He has participated most recently with the Indirect Care Group.

Charlie has been a patient at Family Medicine Center since 2013.


Winston Liao comes to the Patient Advisory Council with training and experience in public health, health research (clinical trials, epidemiology, disease management/intervention, Winston Liao.jpgetc.), and behavioral sciences.  Winston was able to apply these skills to his work at the Chronic Disease and Injury Section, North Carolina Division of Public Health, prior to his retirement.

Currently, he is a member of the Orange County Advisory Board on Aging and co-chair of the North Carolina COPD Taskforce.  He also works with state and national organizations to address COPD issues through the drafting of state COPD plans for North Carolina and South Carolina; the conduct of community-based educational and outreach activities; and presentations at national conferences (Healthy Aging Summit, American Public Health Association Annual Meeting, etc.).

Winston's main reason for becoming a member of the PAC is that as a parent, grandparent and member of the baby boomer generation, he has experienced and observed the many health issues affecting pediatric, adult, and aging groups.  Winston considers it a privilege to be able to participate in the continuing effort to help make UNC Family Medicine the premiere family medicine department in the country.  He has served on the Clinical Systems Improvement Committee, as well as Kaizen events: Greeting and Rooming, Pre-visit, and Value Stream.  Other activities:  UNC-SPH students' obesity project and the FMC flu study.

Winston became a member of the Patient Advisory Council in 2014.  He has been a patient at Family Medicine Center since 1979.


David S. Rubin has been Professor Emeritus in the Kenan-Flagler Business School and the Department of Statistics & Operations Research, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill since 2007, where he taught for 36 years.  He serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of the North Carolina State Health Plan, which provides health insurance to over 680,000 active and retired employees of the State of North Carolina and their dependents.

He is also on the Board of Directors of the North Carolina Hillel Foundation, and serves on the Investment Committee of the Jewish Community Foundation of the Durham-Chapel Hill Jewish Federation.

David was asked to join the Family Medicine Center's Patient Advisory Council by Dr. Sam Weir.  This was the same time that David began his service on the State Health Plan Board.  Apart from his immediate interest in FMC as a patient, the synergies possible between these two organizations made Dr. Weir's offer most attractive.  He has served on FMC's Renovation and Redesign Committee, as well as assisting with the Epic conversion in its initial phase.  David has been a member of the Patient Advisory Council since its inception in 2012.

David has been a patient at the Family Medicine Center since 2004.

Jeannine Simmons.jpgJeanine Simmons serves as Director of Development for Caring House in Durham, NC.  Caring House is the hospitality house for Duke Cancer Institute, which provides patients with affordable housing and a supportive community during treatment.  Jeanine is passionate about service, community based partnerships, and leadership development.

Jeanine volunteered to join the UNC Family Medicine Center's Patient Advisory Council in 2012.  Her goal was to give back to a place that has given so much to her and her family. She loves being part of a health care team that values her and her family as participants in the process, rather than as consumers.  By participating with the PAC, she hopes to ensure a process where patients feel empowered in their health care and know that their voice makes a difference.  The manner in which UNC Family Medicine Center encourages partnerships among providers, clinical staff, and patients is a rare find, and Jeanine is grateful to be a part of the process.

Jeanine has been a patient at Family Medicine Center since 2010.


 Janice Wells is a retired social work professor and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.  Her areas of practice include medical social work and gerontology.  She is committed to establishing community networks that help support aging adults, to remain in their homes as long as they can safely do so.  She and her husband have helped organize two Aging in Place groups in Chapel Hill and have provided consultation to groups with similar interests in Durham, Brier Creek, Charlotte and Charleston.

Her FMC physician, Dr. Weir, told her about the Patient Advisory Council and how to apply to be a member.  She has been a member of the PAC since its inception in 2012.

Janice attended the iPOP3 conference and two Kaizen events, as well as provided input to several research initiatives at FMC.  She attends the LTLT meeting and represents the FMC PAC on hospital-wide committees, as the current Patient Advisory Council's Patient Co-Chair.

Janice and her family have been patients at FMC since 2006.