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Patient Advocacy

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Patient Advocacy, Emancipation and Proactive Health Behaviors

"A Primer for Patient Advocacy
by Karen Gebala, Guest Writer

"Michael Lerner, author of Choices in Healing, likens receiving a cancer diagnosis to being a soldier ordered to parachute into a jungle war zone without a compass, a map or training of any kind. A pretty graphic description, but one we can relate to when forced to face a medical challenge and enter into a new world revolving around medical procedures, lab visits, hospital stays, treatments, health insurance, home health care, and so on. Taking a deep breath and slowly putting one foot in front of the other can help us through the maze; but there are also supportive, caring people available to guide us. They are called patient advocates...."
The full article can be found on pp. 4 & 5 of the March 2014 issue of the PL Voice [click & scroll to p.4]
Karen Gebala was a resident of Port Ludlow and a member of the PLVC Health & Wellness Committee. She resides now on Bainbridge Island.

"Advocate makes hospital stay easier," Kitsap Sun, April 19, 2015, 1D & 6D; [by Ginny Sugimoto, M.D. Family Practioner from Group Health, Port Orchard, Hospital Privileges at Harrison MC, Bremerton] "Modern health care has become more technical and complex than ever before. Patients need someone who can advocate for their care, especially when they are not feeling their best..."
Most important tasks:
  1. Preparation
  2. Asking Questions
  3. Pain Monitoring
  4. Hygiene Care
  5. Treats & Hydradition
  6. Encouraging Recovery
  7. Being Present
  8. Knowing Patients' Rights
  9. Helping with Discharge

  • The increased specialization, complexity and disjointedness of the healthcare system and, in response, the calls for more patient-centered healthcare approaches, have been fertile grounds for the evolution of numerous relatively new categories of and career opportunities for health professionals and volunteer activists interested in helping patients'
    1. understanding of and ability to navigate the healthcare system,
    2. understanding of personal disease characteristics and treatment options
    The following alternative and heavily overlapping conceptual, professional, institutional, legal categories can be found both in praxis and the literature: Advocate (Patient, Health, Healthcare) Navigator (Patient, Healthcare, Cancer Care) Ombudsman Partner/ Partnership Caretaker Care Managers (Geriatric etc.) Case Manager Coordinator Guardian Consultant Coach Social Worker Lawyer

  • When interacting with the healthcare system, a "Patient Advocate" can be:
    1. a patient advocating for him or herself
    2. a friend or family member of the patient
    3. a person performing the function of an advocate in some other volunteer context
    4. a person hired by a patient or the patient's family to be an advocate for the patient
    5. a person employed by an agency or healthcare provider (e.g. a hosptal) to act as an "advocate", "ombudsman" or "navigator" to watch over the interests or concerns of patients (e.g. follow up on complaints, provide assistance)

  • General Background Resources:

  • More Specific Resources for Different Types of Advocacy or Advocates

    1. Patient, assert thyself and be your own advocate

    2. How to advocate for a frient or family member

    3. Be or find a Volunteer Advocate or non-profit advocacy organization

    4. Who is a Professional Patient Advocate hired by and representing a patient

    5. A Patient Advocate (incl. "ombudsman" ) working for a local government agency or a specifc healthcare provider ( e.g. hospital) for the benefit of the patients or for the hospital and the patient.
      • Patient Advocate: Patients' Rights & Responsibilities [Jefferson Health Care]

      • Hospital Patient Advocacy [Certification]

      • Hospital Patient Advocacy Career Hospital patient advocates work for the hospital, not for the patient. They are part of the risk management group. The idea is to keep lawsuits at bay. To the extent that avoiding a lawsuit is helpful to both the patient AND the hospital, these hospital advocates may be able to help patients out.

      • Center for Medicare Advocacy Mission Statement: To advance access to comprehensive Medicare coverage and quality health care for older people and people with disabilities by providing exceptional legal analysis, education, and advocacy

      • Public Hospital Ombudsman

      • What is a Long-Term Care OMBUDS(WO)MAN in Washington State?

        Jane Meyer
        Ombudsmen protect and promote the rights and quality of life of long-term care residents by providing a presence in long-term care facilities, and by working with state agencies and stakeholders to make improvements in long-term care laws, regulations and practices.

        The Washington State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program protects and promotes quality of life for people living in licensed, long-term adult care facilities (e.g. adult family home, boarding home, nursing home).[Source]

        • Jefferson Cty [Jane Meyer, 360-417-8556; 800-801-0070; Email:]
        • Kitsap Cty || More Detail! [Dana Gargus,, 360.337.5714 (May 2012)]
        • Long Term Care Ombudsman [Dept of Commerce, Wa State] "Please call the statewide hotline (1-800-562-6028) for questions or concerns about residents in long term care facilities.
          How We Help: The Department of Commerce contracts with the Multi-Service Center to manage the Long-Term Care Ombudsman program, employ staff, and provide statewide assistance through regional offices. Legal services are also subcontracted to provide assistance to staff and residents. The Multi-Service Center provides policy direction and oversight of the regional offices, they train and certify volunteer Ombudsmen, and they work with statewide advocacy groups. The program is funded through the federal Older Americans Act, state funds, and local contributions.
        • Regional Ombudsmen by County in the State of Washington

        • The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) ... is the leading voice on aging issues for Area Agencies on Aging and a champion for Title VI Native American aging programs. Through advocacy, training and technical assistance, we support the national network of 618 AAAs and 246 Title VI programs.

  • Specific Services Provided by Patient Advocates

  • Patient Rights & Responsibilities:

    • Patient Care Partnership [American Hospital Association] Replacing the AHA's Patients' Bill of Rights, this plain language brochure informs patients about what they should expect during their hospital stay with regard to their rights and responsibilities.
    • Advance Directives [Group Health] When people are seriously hurt, sick, or near the end of their lives, they may not be able to tell their doctors what kind of medical and nursing care they want. They also might not be able to tell them where they want to receive care. Doctors need to know who you want to speak for you if this happens. The best way to give this information to doctors and caregivers is to write it down....

    PROACTIVITY - Proactive Health Behaviors <-B>

  • Navigate & Search!

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    Jane Meyer: Did you know that we have an "Ombudsman" for Long-Term Care and Advocate for Patients' Rights in our County?

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