Patient advocacy groups often take part in “Day on the Hill” events. This is when an organization sends a group of people to Washington DC to meet with the offices of federal representatives. I’ve attended several hill day events over the past several years with different patient advocacy groups. At this point, I’m ready to let you know some of my tips and tricks so that when you’re ready to get started and do this work, you’ll be prepared.
How does an IBD patient attend Day on the Hill events and meet with the offices of congressional representatives in Washington DC? What is it like to go to these events? In this episode I describe how I got involved in hill day meetings, why I do it, and what the process is like to attend. I also offer you my tips on how to make the best of the time spent in the capital in order to make the biggest impact on the people who can affect change in the lives of IBD patients.
We tend to think of politics as being for adults. But how do adults become engaged citizens who take part in their community? They start as children, learning from parents about the importance and benefit of volunteering, voting, and understanding the challenges and opportunities in their community. There’s so much that parents can do to raise children to be active community members. In addition, some of the many skills that are learned along the way, include public speaking, networking, teamwork, strategy, and communication. Continue reading
How young is “too young” to get kids involved in activism? Gastroenterologist and activist Dr Meenakshi Bewtra started her kids on their activism journey at birth and continues by bringing them to marches, voter registration events, and postcard writing parties. Dr Bewtra shares her tips on how you can involve your kids in activism, why you should, and how it might make your life as a parent — and activist — a bit easier.
Working with our local elected officials is important to having our voices heard. But attending local town hall meetings held by state or federal congressional representatives is daunting, especially if you’ve never done it before. Shawntel Bethea of Chronically Strong describes her journey from sending an email to asking for support from her Congresswoman at a meeting in her district. She gives her tips on how you can make an impact in your community for people living with IBD.
For this first episode of my limited series, Summer of Activism, I’m answering a question that I hear regularly: how it is that I go to medical meetings such as Digestive Disease Week, Advances in IBD, or Crohn’s and Colitis Congress. I give you the answer as well as tips on how patients, bloggers, podcasters, and vloggers can work towards attending these, and other, scientific meetings. Here’s a spoiler: it takes dedication to improving the lives of people with IBD, commitment to doing the work consistently, and some professional networking.
Does having IBD make you feel like a princess? Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are not only painful, serious conditions, but they also carry stigma which leads to patients feeling isolated. Sophia Vicari, the founder of The Princess Promise, is creating a community that challenges the perception society has about digestive disease. Diagnosed with ulcerative colitis while in college, it didn’t take long before Sophia decided she needed to work to help others in the IBD community become more comfortable talking about poop. Hear Sophia’s disease journey, what it was like for her to be Miss Camden County, NJ, while living with ulcerative colitis, and how she plans to help women with IBD find their inner princess.
Every person that lives with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis in the United States knows the challenges of dealing with health insurance companies. Denials of service are common, particularly when diagnostic tests are ordered or when a new drug is prescribed. A change in insurance carrier, which can come after a life event (such as getting married or changing jobs) or at the start of the calendar year is another time when patients may find themselves in the appeal process in order to get needed tests or medication. For Jaime Holland, a life change, an insurance change, a calendar year change, and a change in gastroenterologist culminated in her being in danger of not receiving her biologic medication on time. Hear Jaime tell the story of how the problem started, why she had to look to someone outside her physicians office and her insurance carrier to get it solved, and her tips to help you avoid similar insurance snafus. This episode is perfect not only for anyone living with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) but also anyone who cares for those living with these diseases.
This year I attended the annual “Day on the Hill” with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation (the Foundation) in Washington, DC. It’s a two-day advocacy event where people who have been touched by inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), either as patients, caregivers, or healthcare professionals, meet with legislators and/or their staff.
That’s the postcard version: but let’s break this down so it makes more sense.
Many young people who are undergoing ileostomy surgery to treat Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis have never met another younger person with an ostomy. Gaylyn Henderson, founder of Gutless and Glamorous, wants to make sure that people living with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) don’t experience the uncertainty and stigma that she encountered before her ostomy surgery. In between running a successful foundation and a support group for people with chronic illness, Gaylyn has also become a spokeswoman for people with an ostomy, proving that her ileostomy is not a barrier to success.