Patients Are Actually Customers…Who Knew?

I was finally getting to my giant pile of reading this week when I saw an article in Health Care Information Week that included the following sentence:

As consumer satisfaction begins to have a bigger impact on the bottom line, more hospitals are hiring a chief patient experience officer (CXO) to treat patients like valued customers.

Maybe it’s me, as a born and bred marketing person, but that seems like the weirdest concept in the world. In layman’s terms it basically means this: Hospitals are waking up to the fact that patients are actually their customers (go figure) and failure to notice this fact will reduce their revenue. Another fact: it wasn’t until CMS decided to penalize hospitals for poor patient satisfaction by docking their reimbursement by up to 2 percent that hospitals started to get religion on this topic. (more…)

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She Sued NYC and Won

Photo by Graeme Mitchell

I remember one time in high school during the big homecoming game, a bunch of my male classmates painted (the much worshiped) orange and black school colors on their chest, proudly baring them in the 30 degree chill. Even last summer there were hundreds of men on the beach of all ages and weight sizes, naked from the waist up walking proudly. In fact, at no time in my recent memory have I associated the appearance of a bare male chest with anything inappropriate.Yet, for most of us, the thought of a woman freely baring her breasts in public is something incredibly taboo.

You may have heard of the “topless paparazzo” Holly Van Voast or her alter-ego, Holly Van Toast. Last year, Van Voast was arrested and institutionalized multiple times as a result of exposing her bare breasts in high-traffic areas of New York City, including Grand Central, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Staten Island Ferry, and several film premieres. This is despite the fact that no law exists in New York barring a woman from showing her bare breasts publicly- in fact, it is perfectly legal.

Now, a year later after the dust has settled a bit, we sat down with Van Voast, an artist not an activist, to discuss her motivation, what she learned about body image and the perception of beauty, and what she is up to now. (more…)

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What’s Hobby Lobby’s Real Agenda?

Displaying blogphoto.jpgIt has recently come to light that Hobby Lobby, currently embroiled in a legal debate over the federal mandate requiring employers to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives, has significant investments in companies that produce the very contraceptives they’ve objected to in their lawsuit, leading many to claim that the lawsuit is hypocritical.  David Green, CEO and founder of the Oklahoma-based for-profit corporation claimed, that by ” being required to make a choice between sacrificing our faith or paying millions of dollars in fines, we essentially must choose which poison pill to swallow…We simply cannot abandon our religious beliefs to comply with this mandate.” Hobby Lobby claims that mandate forces the company’s owners to violate their religious beliefs or face heavy consequences including penalties, fines, and lawsuits. (more…)

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Finding the Words: Gender Affirmation and Language

UnknownThis article will be a little more personal than my previous articles. I want to share a bit about myself, my identity and what it means to me to be seen and affirmed.

Monday, March 31, was the International Transgender Day of Visibility, but I was just as invisible as any other day. You see, I’m not out on the job. I haven’t told my co-workers or my students that I’m genderqueer. They don’t know my preferred pronouns and they default to feminine pronouns based on who they perceive me to be. It hurts and I hate it.

I probably could come out. I know the laws in Illinois and I’m protected under anti-discrimination laws. My co-workers are pretty decent people, they might understand, right? I may never know. All I know is the tightness in my chest and stomach when I think about having “the talk” with them. I feel nauseous and anxious like I need to hide or curl up in a ball. I also feel dishonest and a bit deceitful. Fear keeps me silent and holds (more…)

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  • April 7th, 2014 The City of Brotherly Love and the Kids We Need to Love Better
    By Glenna Crooks
  • March 2014 Man of the Month: Matt Wallaert


    A quick glance around the internet will tell you that there are a million blogs trying to help women be more frugal.  But how often do we talk about the other side of the equation, the money coming in instead of the money going out?  In an era where women are still dramatically underpaid, there is no amount of coupon clipping that is going to make up for a  20-30% difference in salary.

    Matt Wallaert is a behavioral scientist at Bing and co-creator of, a free site aimed at closing the gender wage gap.  GetRaised helps women understand if they are underpaid and to empower them to do something about it by creating a free letter that they can give to their boss to start the conversation around getting a raise.  They’ve achieved eye-opening success: a simple letter has been enough to help 70% of women get a raise, with an average increase of around $6,500.  And the site has helped tens of thousands of women, completely free.

    As co-creator of, I get the opportunity to speak fairly frequently about gender wage equity.  During Q&A, there is always the inevitable question: why do I keep saying equity, instead of equality?  This question is usually accompanied by some shifting in the seats, because people always hate it when terminology is discussed. Often, it feels simply like debating semantics. (more…)

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    Disruptive Videos We Love

    DWFeedburnerDid you know that when it comes to effective medicine, gender truly matters? Or, have you seen Dr. Danielle Martin, vice president at the Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, school the United States Congress on how we can learn from different health care systems around the world? What about this touching video from a Down syndrome advocacy group, sent to a future mom who recently found out that her child had Down syndrome? Lastly, watch this demonstration of true friendship from a group of women for a friend battling breast cancer.  (more…)

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    Why I Share My Story: Karen and Stage 4 Colon Cancer

    April 7th, 2007: It was about one month before my 32nd birthday. My son Ethan was 16 months old. My daughter Sydney had turned three in February. My husband and I had been married for eight years. On that day in an emergency room in New Jersey I was told, as a nurse stood next to me crying, “You have colon cancer, you have tumors all over your liver.”

    “Say that to me again. Say to me you have colon cancer,” I asked.

    The emergency room doctor looking very sad and strikingly helpless said, “You have colon cancer.”

    I asked, “And I have tumors all over my liver?”

    “Yes,” he replied. With tears streaming down my face, I repeated, “Say that part again too. Tell me I have tumors all over my liver.”

    He did as I asked.

    The nurse touched my shoulder, whispering as she wiped her tears away, “I am so sorry.” (more…)

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    Look Who’s Coming Between You and Your Doctor

    Trudy LiebermanOpponents of health care reform, especially those who resist moving to a single payer system like Canada’s, have often used a very powerful argument to sway public opinion. Any significant changes, they warn, to America’s private insurance system would mean that the government will come between patients and their doctors by making decisions about the care Americans receive. Remember the fear and uproar stirred up over “death panels”?

    But what if it’s not the government that is inserting itself between you and your doctor? Since managed care appeared more than two decades ago, insurers have attempted to guide physicians’ behavior regarding the treatments and medicines patients could have. Many insurers required preapproval for some services, especially the costly ones. Utilization nurses sat in cubicles dispensing health information and saying yea or nay to your physician’s plans for your care. (more…)

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    Short in the Cord: A Retrospective on Living and Coping with Multiple Sclerosis

    PicturejwToday, Joan Wheeler shares with us an excerpt from her collection of essays titled ” A Short in the Cord: A Retrospective on Living and Coping with Multiple Sclerosis.” Described in her own words, 

    “This story describes my own experiences with Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis, which is a ‘type’ of MS where the patient experiences an episode (aka attack, flare-up, exacerbation, or relapse) of some neurological symptom that is followed by a complete or partial recovery period, or remission.  Each day is different – no, actually, each hour is different.  My disease is as unpredictable as that lamp in my apartment living room years ago.  Because of the unpredictability and the variances in symptoms, it is very hard to explain to other people what I’m going through or why sometimes I’m suddenly unable to do things that I could do earlier.  I need to share my experiences, to explain, to come to terms, to mourn, to heal.  This is part of my therapy. ” (more…)

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    Culture of Shame

    Autistic HoyaGrowing up, my understanding of “disability” was limited to signs for “handicapped parking” with a white stick figure in a wheelchair and “special needs” children, who were always looked at from afar, and who would be described in low, quiet tones just in case they heard themselves being described.

    I was not diagnosed until I was thirteen.

    The word disability was not a word I associated with myself for years after receiving my diagnosis. It’s not a word with a very positive history or even a well-known one. (more…)

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    STORIES FROM THE HEART: She Overcame a Stroke; Her Sister Didn’t, Stoking Her Passion to Educate Others

    Enduring what she thought was a crushing migraine, Bethany Calley left her job at the sheriff’s department and headed to the store for some medicine. She was making her way across a parking lot when “it felt like my head exploded.”

    “It felt like thick fluid was running through my head,” she said. “It felt like I had four pipes running through my head; two forward and two backward.”

    She couldn’t see or speak. She didn’t know if anyone was around. Unsure how to make it back to her car, she just started walking until she bumped into it. Once inside, she managed to pull out her BlackBerry and start typing. She must have hit someone on her contact list because she could hear someone calling her name. They were screaming her name over and over. Bethany kept typing.

    Finally, help arrived. (more…)

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    STORIES FROM THE HEART: Pregnancy masked her heart failure; now she helps warn others about heart disease

    When Jill Russell started feeling chest pains late in her pregnancy, her doctor offered a simple explanation. It was probably just anxiety over the arrival of her daughter.

    Relax, she was told.

    Jill figured that made sense. After all, before becoming pregnant, she was the epitome of good health – at 29, she’d always been active and had no family history of heart disease or high blood pressure. Her pregnancy had been relatively symptom-free, too, except for some recent swelling.

    Sure enough, the pressure subsided after a few hours. Yet Jill spent the final two weeks of her pregnancy feeling very uncomfortable. The swelling was worse, especially in her legs and feet, and they hurt. Her delivery turned problematic, too. While her daughter was fine, Jill hemorrhaged and needed additional intravenous fluids. (more…)

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    Let’s Talk About It: Trans* Youth and Suicide Prevention

    UnknownAs discussed in my previous article, bullying and discrimination take a toll on young people. In addition to physical symptoms, it can lead to depression, self-harm and, for some, suicide. This is particularly true for queer and trans* youth.

    There are a lot of statistics about suicide among youth, particularly suicide among LGB youth. There is also quite a bit of research on mental health and transgender adults. However, I was hard pressed to find much research that specifically addresses transgender youth and suicide prevention. Although, there is overlap with other research on youth, and many of the same issues that affect transgender adults, also affect transgender teens, it is important to consider the unique difficulties that transgender youth face. (more…)

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    National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day: Educate, Test, Involve, Treat

    IMG_20140206_180005763I was five years old in 1990, when HIV-AIDS was entering the national spotlight, sparking awareness and fear. We were educated in elementary school about the transmission of the virus; I remember a lengthy conversation [ more so my parents talking at me] about why it was important not to touch someone with an open wound. In years to follow, pivotal cultural figures like Magic Johnson would come out announcing their status,  further proving that the disease could effect anyone.

    First appearing in the early 1980s, HIV-AIDS quickly became a national concern.  And today,  while advances in the treatment of HIV-AIDS has allowed those infected to live longer, there are serious