MusiCorps: Helping Wounded Warriors Play Music and Recover Their Lives

Ibloomn 2007 Arthur Bloom was invited to visit a soldier recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The soldier, a drummer who had lost his leg to a roadside bomb, was concerned about whether he would ever be able to play the drums again.

Bloom, a Juilliard- and Yale-trained composer and pianist, didn’t have any previous experience with wounded service members. However, during this initial visit to Walter Reed Bloom promised to do whatever it took to help the soldier play again.

Stepping back from the situation, Bloom recognized that the need was great, with Walter Reed overflowing with injured service members. He also saw that the injured had very little to do at Walter Reed outside of their medical appointments during recoveries that could last for years. Bloom quickly realized how he might assist with the growing crisis of thousands of severely wounded service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. (more…)

Dear Provider – Your Image Matters!

Jane O. Smith

It’s been almost eight years since my mastectomy – since then I’ve dealt with an array of side issues and preventative health procedures.  As someone who helped launch one of the nation’s first case management models 25 years ago – the “ROSE” program – my sensitivities to the communication, behavior and appearance of my physicians and allied healthcare professionals have become more acute – especially through my journey with cancer.

ROSE taught us that in order for patients to comply and to flourish, they needed to trust whomever they worked with – and the keys were civility and self care.  It’s still somewhat of a secret, it seems.

Prior to ROSE, in 1984, I served as the first director of marketing for a rehabilitation hospital during the advent of HMOs.  I was tasked to grow referrals from insurers, reinsurers and employers.  My heart usually skipped a beat when I toured them through our facility, as one of our more vocal physiatrists was overweight and gruff, and her staff was in disarray.  It felt a bit disingenuous to talk to our payers, patients and families about healthy habits and our commitment to “guest relations” at events and board meetings. (more…)

Cinderblocks 2016: Bring on the Patients!

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Regina Holliday

The irrepressible Regina Holliday is doing it again. This week will be the third time the mighty patient advocate, author and founder of the Walking Gallery of Healthcare is holding the “Cinderblocks” conference, a patient-led art and medical forum which has become sort of a revival meeting for patient advocates. Among headliner presenters is our friend and colleague, patient engagement advocate and kidney cancer survivor e-Patient Dave deBronkart. But the force behind the conference is Regina. (Read a recent USA Today profile of her work here.)

I remember attending the very first Cinderblocks conference in Kansas City, Missouri, and finally getting a chance to know Regina, whom I’d spotted during a previous conference in her customary venue – bellied up to her easel, clad in a smock, paints splayed in front of her. Labeled “Little Miss Type-A personality” by one of the doctors who treated her late husband, she proudly sports a big letter “A” she painted on the back of her own signature red jacket, as a key reminder of her own health care journey. For the uninitiated among us, Regina leverages her passion for storytelling and artistic talents to paint wildly expressive paintings on the back of business jackets.

walking-gallery-300x219The coveted jackets are worn at medical conferences and other events, where they’re guaranteed to prompt conversations. 44 artists have since participated, but most of the jackets (about 350 out of more than 400) were painted by Regina herself. She continues to churn out jackets, in between delivering keynote speeches, volunteering in her community, raising funds to buy and build a home for the Walking Gallery in her hometown, and raising two boys on her own.

Launched into patient advocacy by the death of her beloved husband Frederick from kidney cancer, and struggling to get him good care as he was moved from facility to facility, Regina fought to get his medical records. She was told it would take 21 days and she would have to pay 73 cents per page (there were 162 pages).  “73 Cents” became the name of the mural she painted on the side of a garage in Washington, DC, depicting the full array of both shameless and heroic acts by the medical team that surrounded her husband in his final days. The Walking Gallery became an extension of this work.

The Cinderblocks conference will always be extra special to me and Diane Stollenwerk. It’s there we met, in 2012, cabbing together with e-Patient Dave from the airport to the hotel. We reveled in the energy, enthusiasm and brainstorming at this aptly named “unconference”. And it was on the very last day, departing for home, that  Diane and I first sketched out the idea for what would become PVI on the back of a cocktail napkin.

This year’s Cinderblocks is in Grantsville, MD. Here’s how to get tickets, and here’s the full agenda. Through the miracle of technology, PVI will be able to visit with our friends virtually.

We’re looking forward to checking in. Patient advocacy is often lonely work; these regular infusions of energy, optimism, community and creativity help keep us going. You can be sure Cinderblocks, and the community built by Regina Holliday, will bring it, in spades.

By . This post originally appeared in Patient Voice Institute.

#SpacesOfHealth: Aging in Place [Recap]

Can a city help improve your health outcomes? Can a hospital make you sick? The #SpacesOfHealth campaign, brought to you by the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University, seeks to answer these and similar questions in a series of live webinars around the relationship between environment and health.

call outGone are the days when the thought of aging meant slowing down, a sure retirement and eventual disability. This thinking is being rewritten by baby boomers who want to enjoy their homes, embrace their communities, maintain an active lifestyle and “age in place” — that is, remain in their home of choice for as long as possible. According to the AARP, 87 percent of adults age 65 and older want to age in place. By renovating their homes, engaging in the “village” model, and using innovative solutions, it is now possible for aging adults to safely stay in their homes longer. But more needs to be done on both the community and government levels to make this a reality for more people in all economic brackets.

To explore the issues surrounding the aging in place movement, the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University hosted a webinar as part of the #SpacesOfHealth series. Aging in place advocates and experts in the field of home care, long-term care and aging policy discussed the intersection of the nation’s aging population, and the innovations and opportunities that exist that will allow older adults to age on their terms. Below are the panelists who participated in the webinar and the key takeaways from the discussion.

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Improving Maternal Health in the U.S. and Around the World

Sophia Headshot_Sep15Since 1990, the United States is the only World Health Organization (WHO) region that has actually had an increase in maternal deaths. Although many think that maternal health problems are isolated to the developing world, challenges persist in our country. This is despite spending the most in the world on hospitalization for pregnancy and childbirth. In contrast, the countries that have been most successful in reducing maternal deaths have often achieved these results by using a midwifery model of care—an example that the U.S. may benefit from. Midwifery programs provide advanced education and training to support this model, and studies highlight the positive outcomes that result. Here, we’ll examine why maternal health may be getting worse in the U.S. and solutions that may offer better results. (more…)



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