The event that lead me to become a Private Patient Advocate was my dad’s terminal brain cancer diagnosis. Unlike many families in this situation, I was able to use my knowledge gained from my 25+ year career in the healthcare industry to help others understand how important it is for patients to be treated safely, to feel respected, understand their rights a patient, and have their dignity maintained in a health crisis. At the time I had no idea my journey with my dad would result in me re-entering the healthcare profession at the cutting edge of an emerging new industry as a Private Patient Advocate.
I remember sitting bedside in the hospital, my heart broken and I needed to find away to to help him find calm in this storm.
My dad was an avid opera fan and I knew listening to his music would provide him much needed comfort in his final weeks. When I turned to put some music on for him I realized he didn’t have his hearing aids. I remembered adding them to the hospital intake form when he was admitted. Having worked in a hospital, I knew that if his hearing aids were listed on his intake inventory and they get lost during his hospital stay, the hospital legally HAD to replace them.
My first phone call to request the hearing aids be replaced was met with great resistance to say the least. I explained my background in hospital administration and that I understood his rights as a patient, to have the hearing aids replaced. I also conveyed the sense of urgency due to his recent diagnosis. With a check from the hospital and a caring audiologist, my dad had his new hearing aids in less than 48 hours.
My dad returned home on hospice and enjoyed his final weeks listening to his beloved opera music. While his passing was incredibly painful, knowing he received the very best care possible and was able to listen to his music provided me with peace of mind that was priceless.
I knew that Advocacy was to become my mission when I received this note enclosed in a Christmas card from my brother:
“Sandy, Christmas wouldn’t be complete if I were not to tell you how much your kindness, love and acts of service to our Dad and to me meant earlier this year as Dad’s health turned in just a matter of a couple of months. I will never forget what you did and I know that it all would have been immeasurably more difficult if you had not been there to deal with things and people during the times that mattered most.
I think it’s important to hear that others recognize the sacrifice and service that you have provided so unselfishly this year. Not only did you help with the many needs that Dad had during August-October, but in so doing, you lent dignity to Dad’s life, when loss of function and thinking capacity might have suggested a lack of dignity.
I want to thank you for what you did this year on behalf of Dad, and me. I will appreciate it for the rest of my life.”
As a Private Patient Advocate, my primary focus is to use my knowledge of the healthcare industry to reduce the level of fear and misinformation for today’s Seniors and their families. When you find yourself at the mercy of a fragmented and dysfunctional healthcare system, you need an Advocate.
Think of a health crisis as a series of challenging decisions, each decision requiring information to assess possible options. PSA would appreciate the opportunity to make certain along the way you receive the information you need to make informed decisions and understand your rights as a patient, working with you to ensure you receive the best possible outcome.