On September 13, 2013, I was recognized for my work by the Maine Patient Safety Academy. It was their inaugural award ceremony and I am extremely humbled and proud to have been chosen for this award. I was in the company of a nurse from Maine Medical Center who dropped the CLABI rate to ZERO in her NICU and a doctor whose serious determination, dedication and teaching has made patients at MMC and all over the State of Maine safer.
I am very grateful for this recognition from the PSA and to the people who nominated me for this award.
I remember the first time I attended the PSA. 3 years ago, I walked into the event, alone, and not knowing anyone. I had been working hard at that time on MRSA prevention in Maine and on the national level. I knew that many in the Maine Hospital community were against what I proposed for the State, Active Detection and Isolation for the prevention of MRSA in Maine Hospitals. I am still a firm believer in that approach to MRSA prevention. Not knowing who was at the event, except for Judy Tupper, the organizer of the event, I felt a little skeptical and nervous. At the same time I knew I had to broaden my knowledge base and collaborate with others who are doing the work. During my attendance, I learned about the work that dedicated professionals were doing in my own State. I was so impressed with this energetic conference, that I promoted it to my national group of Patient Safety Advocates with the Consumers Union Safe Patient Project. By the following year, the CU had formed a sub group called NEVER, or Northeast Voices for Error Reduction. This smaller group joined me at 2012 at the Maine PSA! I was so proud and excited to welcome them to Maine and to introduce them to some of the Patient Safety work that Maine was doing. Three of us did a co presentation on Patient Safety as a break out session. Inclusion of healthcare consumers and the Patient’s voice was a significant gesture of the PSA.
I continued to work doggedly for the past year. I attended, helped to plan and participated in conferences here in Maine and nationwide. This year when I attended the PSA, I knew a lot of the attendees, and even the keynote speaker. I met him at the Institute of Medicine event I attended last spring, and he remembered me and came up to me to chat! He is a wonderful young ER doc from Boston. He and I share similar tragic healthcare experiences with a parent. My new participation in the Maine Quality Counts Consumer Advisory Council has opened even more doors for me to bring my ideas and the patient’s voice to healthcare reform in my State. I also continue to advocate for individual patients, which is my most gratifying work of all. More recently, I have reached out to my own city’s healthcare leadership to field the possibility of forming a Patient and Family Advisory Council in our community.
I don’t have a guidebook to do this work, but my path becomes clearer as I go along. My goals never change… they are accessible and affordable, safer, infection free care for all and inclusion of the patient’s voice in all levels of healthcare decision making. I feel more comfortable in my own skin every time I go to another conference, event or meeting.
I have my beautiful award prominently displayed on my living room mantle. I will bring it to my MQC Consumer Advisory Council meeting on Sept 20, 2013 and proudly share it with my consumer colleagues there. But, I will not allow my head to swell, and I will keep my feet firmly planted on the ground and keep plugging away to make patients safer.