|Heidi Singer||Kathy Haugrud||Ann Kent||Colleen South||Cathy Paige|
|Roger White||Susan Finster||Pegeen Laughlin||Donna Silvert||Sharon Dodds|
It has never been so critical and so necessary to appoint professional consumer advocates at every juncture of care and to develop educational programs of excellence that prepare students to enter this field. Put very simply, all patients need an advocate and I have never witnessed or heard about a scenario where they didn’t need one.
The continuum of care concept, ideally guides and tracks patients through an integrated system over time through a comprehensive array of health services spanning all levels of intensity of care” (Creating the continuum of care, Evashwick, C.). Yet in my opinion this ideal cannot hold up to the increasingly complex health care systems of today. Continuum of care is choppy, disconnected and I think, fundamentally broken. I hear daily stories from exhausted and ill patients trying to orchestrate their own healthcare options; a woman recovering from a stroke struggled with her speech as she explained to me her frustration in dealing with the details of her benefit plans and the many taxing conversations she had with medical personnel and consumer call center representatives. Patients have difficulty with complicated phone loops and websites connected with
accessing their health information. Even the physicians I spoke with expressed their concerns about keeping track and taking care of their patients, filling out increasing amounts of paper-work and spending less face to face time with the people they
were trying to help.
Antioch’s Healthcare Consumer Advocacy/Patient Navigation Program is a dynamic and present-focused program that is addressing all the right questions in all the right ways. The classes are lively and feature motivating teachers and guest speakers covering the core topics that form the basis of the program. But at the same time the program goes further and raises the bar by introducing and dissecting non-mainstream, holistic, yet complimentary approaches to consumer advocacy.
As with any clinical based program, it is what you make of it that is equally if not more important. I wanted face time and flexibility. My internship in an adult psychiatric hospital has been amazing. This has been a deeply meaningful experience for me on a personal level as well, and this is the most exciting. In sum, the Healthcare Consumer Advocacy/Patient Navigation Program has given me a gift and fueled my passion to duplicate in the real world that which I have come to understand are the moral and ethical principles necessary to become a compassionate yet effective advocate for my patients.
As often happens in life, I literally stumbled into the Healthcare Consumer Advocacy/Patient Navigation program. For several years prior to entering the program, I had been actively engaged in writing health and wellness articles on women’s health issues, and building a website and blogging presence on the Internet.
I had a passionate interest in perimenopause issues in particular, and as a result, had begun exploring new career possibilities that would allow me to continue on that path. In my searching and questing, I came upon Antioch University Midwest and learned of their undergraduate degree offering in Health & Wellness. I applied to the program and was subsequently offered an opportunity to enter the Individualized Masters of Arts program instead. It was in applying and getting accepted into the program that I also learned about the Healthcare Consumer Advocacy/Patient Navigation Certification. I came into the IMA and Health Care Consumer Advocacy/Patient Navigation program shooting wide. I had a clear idea of what interested me and the direction I wished to proceed, but I wasn’t so clear about what consumer advocacy was going to offer me.
Since completing nearly two blocks of the program, my focus has become sharper and clearer. Entire areas of knowledge and information have opened up to me that I did not even know existed. Subsequently, it has also become very clear to me that my passion for blogging and writing on behalf of women and their health issues, has actually been a form of advocacy. I just did not think of it in those terms. The Health Care Consumer Advocacy/Patient Navigation program has given me the title, vocabulary, and framework to apply to the work I’ve been so passionate about these past years.
I am still traveling the path that brought me here in the first place. However, it is now with greater clarity and the additional
expectation that as I continue to grow in my understanding of what healthcare consumer advocacy is, I will become a more effective and stronger voice for the women and healthcare issues I care so deeply about.
In today’s world of changing medical care and the overwhelming need of our population to seek good care, there is an even greater need to provide care that is more personal and patient directed. “Hospitalists” are replacing doctors who have followed a family for decades.
The Internet, which can be a helpful tool to gather information, is not a helpful option to many of our elders who are not familiar with it. In trauma or end of life decisions, people’s journeys through those events are softened and become more kind with the help of another.
These ideas among others led me to consider pursuing the “Healthcare Consumer Advocacy/Patient Navigation Certificate.” I am presently a Speech/Language Pathologist who also holds a masters degree in Rehabilitation Counseling and a School Counselor’s certification. I have journeyed” with family members through their healthcare challenges and realize the importance of advocacy.
This certification is giving me experience, as part of my internship at an extended care facility and also a broader understanding of the medical, legal and financial aspects of healthcare. I am very excited that the reality of Healthcare Advocacy” does seem to be growing. I am happy to know that in my future, I have another springboard” to continue caring for others.
It is also very exciting to have had Antioch Midwest see” the need in terms of healthcare and work so hard to actually pull a program together and offer a very needed and valuable course of study. I feel very fortunate that I just happen to live nearby and thus, find working full time and taking part in the Pioneer” program a doable” program for me.
I am excited to see where this work will lead and feel thankful to know that I will have a certificate which will represent the tools and skills I need to help others advocate for their healthcare needs.
I picked the HCA/PN program because I love nursing but found with age a need to be more involved with the patients though not necessarily at the bedside. I was having trouble with the physicality that bedside nursing needed. Choosing this program was an easy one since it was very close to where I live. I just didn’t know I would need it so much.
In the small span of time between signing up for this certificate and now, I have taken over assisting with all of the care for my mother-in-law who has Dementia/Alzheimer’s after the death of her best friend, confidant, and transportation and my own mother’s recent diagnosis of breast cancer. My responsibilities are no more than others here in our courses and their families, but I am the closest and only relative to these women. I am using many of the lessons and skills under the direction of these courses and the people they have introduced us to. It is amazing how much these instructors can get you to learn quickly.
Perhaps the added stress of having to learn as much as possible quickly and then to help those closest to me has pushed me to go further than I may have tried before these courses. Going into the community and seeing what resources are available and what others need has been eye opening as well as disappointing. I have seen that in Clark County, which is just north of Yellow Springs, there are many resources that can help the elderly to remain at home as long as possible but there are other areas that are needed and only have one person per county doing the work. In Clark and Greene Counties each has only one person for Adult Protective Services. Unfortunately, the need for these services is also increasing with the number of seniors while the funding is decreasing.
Hopefully, as the first in our area and the country doing this kind of certificate and masters, we can affect the resources that are out there along with getting them to the patients and families that need them.
I was not sure what to expect when entering into this program. Now at the end of the second block with one more to go, I know more than I did when I started. I feel privileged to be with such amazing students.
Our classes are intense, provocative and none of us are shy about speaking up, challenging each other, stretching concepts of wellness, exploring personal stories and histories, passionate discussions surrounding integral health, patients rights, current models of institutional care and the range of services/treatments available (or not) in communities.
I am a seasoned medical worker at one of the major hospitals here in Dayton.
I originally was informed of the HCA program through my association with AUM. I obtained my undergraduate degree from Antioch.
The reason for my enrollment in the program was to increase my scope/knowledge/skill-set in advocating or in representing a patient’s or his or her family’s medical wishes. This is an attempt to increase my overall knowledge and apply it according to the patient’s desires and wishes or as whatever format, such as a living will, dictates.
For the past 25 years I have been a computer programmer with a variety of duties and job titles. I enjoy the puzzling and problem solving aspects
of the work, but something has always been missing.
Many times I have questioned whether I picked the right career and whether there might be something better out there for me. When I saw the Healthcare Consumer Advocacy/Patient Navigation Certification program it appealed to my desire to make a difference with my work and to deal with people instead of machines.
My daughter was born 12 weeks early and spent 10 weeks in the NICU at Children’s Medical Center. My husband and I did a lot of research very quickly to find out what was happening to her and what effects/complications might follow her through life. The doctors and nurses were helpful, but it would have been nice to have someone to stand by us during that difficult time.
When my mother was diagnosed with colon cancer, my siblings and I all had questions that she could not answer because she had not thought to ask the doctor. My father was no help because he refused to admit my mother was dying. We found ourselves doing lots of internet searches and asking questions remotely. It was both frightening and frustrating. Again, it would have been nice to have someone in a supportive role.
In many ways I am already acting as a healthcare advocate for friends and family. This certification program is helping me to round out my education, make connections, and formalize what I am already doing. It is my intent to help unravel the healthcare puzzle one client at a time.
There are several people to whom I am connected that are in need of different levels of caregiving and advocacy. Without making a conscious decision, I have been moving in the direction of providing both of these kinds of services.
As Joy Loverde, author of The Eldercare Planner” states, we do not choose care giving; it chooses us. For whatever reason, most of us end up being caregivers of one sort or another at some point in our lives.
Last year when I found myself getting more and more involved in the position of being a companion on medical visits with my partner, and giving long distance advice to my aging parents, a friend told me of the HCA program at Antioch University Midwest. It came into my life at the perfect time. Over the past 6 months my knowledge of what it means to be an advocate, what resources are available, what kind of network is in the area (and on-line), has been greatly expanded.
Our classes have offered us a forum to explore the many ways of advocating in a safe, accepting and intellectually stimulating environment. Scenarios that I could never have invented, as well as possible solutions and appropriate responses, have been presented to us or developed by us. We have learned about patient rights and how to think critically and act with confidence in making sure that those rights are not violated.
Hopefully, with more people getting more exposure to these ideas and practices, we can help to fix some of what is wrong with our medical delivery system, and ensure that the most people get the most satisfaction, whether their encounter be with illness or wellness.
Accessing and navigating the health care system” can be very challenging. My goal is that everyone gains the knowledge they need to do this, or has someone who is acting on their behalf to make it happen. This is what the Health Care Consumer Advocacy program is about.
The Antioch HCA program has already in the past eight months had significant impact on my life. One month into the program I was launched into
advocacy for the care of my near 90 year old Dad who had suddenly taken a major nose dive, both literally and figuratively.
My family role would naturally have been to be the advocate; however with the tools, knowledge and resource people I had already been exposed to
at Antioch I was effective, capable, and as composed as possible. It is amazing, even for me to ponder at this point, just how deep the program impact has been. I’ll focus on three particular aspects – academic knowledge, resources, emotional/spiritual
The academic portion exposed me to medical and legal tenets that I was able to incorporate into the support of my Dad and Mom. I was better able, for instance, to quickly research terms used in diagnosis and treatment plans. I felt confidant to question specialists. I understood that my experience felt unique but is shared with many advocates. I gained power in that knowledge. I believe I was less likely to be caught off guard by seemingly abrupt hospital decisions because I had gained knowledge of Medicare regs. My knowledge base had been nurtured by the instructors, curriculum and class discussions. I call upon classmate Roger White as a respiratory therapist and proponent of dignified dying to explain the technical terms and possibilities of my father’s pulmonary complications. I came to understand in my class how to gather facts and recommendations while concurrently accepting that I could offer only suggestions, not decisions and often not solutions.
Exposure to resources made it possible for me to explore options and advocate for care plans that changed the lives of my entire family. That is truly powerful. Firstly I will name instructors Amy Crawford, Karen Puterbaugh , Kari Higgins, and Jane Brown who led me in developing appropriate home health care, home adaptations, financial and legal directives, and end-of life dignity. Not only did each of them offer their own expertise, but exposed me to a myriad of inspirational resources.
One example is the visit from Dr. Cass, Hospice Medical Director, who offered me the tools to demand” hospice care near the end. Even the Florida Intake Specialist noted that using Cass’ criteria of would the doctor be surprised if this person died within the next six months?” rather than the standard is there a diagnosis that limits life to 6 months?” is more adaptable. Engaging the doctor with the
information that Dr. Cass provided enlightened him about Hospice possibilities.
Another was the conference with Dr. Banner and the concise understanding that the medical practitioner can be engaged as a partner in wellness, and in dying. I definitely drew upon the Robert Wood Johnson video regarding hospital well being to demand that a doctor look at my Dad when nurses were disregarding the alarming signs seen by family members. I had tools to advocate for my Dad, my Mom and my daughter who became an onsite care giver for the final month. Numerous times, Amy and Karen answered specific medical or care questions and encouraged contact with a local gerontologist. The networking made accessible was invaluable.
Focus on the emotional and spiritual aspects had been well supported in the program and helped me move through my personal advocacy. As my Mother panicked and denied, I was bolstered by reminders from class that everyone brings their history to the situation. I heeded reminders to care for the caregivers. Undoubtedly having discussed dying with dignity supported me in designing this for my clients: my Dad and family. It was powerful to share the passage. Along the way several doctors and case workers commended my advocacy skills. I view that as a reflection of the program.
The Healthcare Consumer Advocacy/Patient Navigation Program has provided me with the opportunity to meet and network with educators, community professionals and classmates who share similar goals of patient advocacy, in a formalized learning environment.