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Maine Quality Counts Annual Conference, Afterglow

On April 2, Mike and I headed to Augusta for an overnight stay.  I had a very busy agenda lined up, mostly involving the MQC conference the next day. I helped to plan the event and I was going to participate in a couple of speaker panels.   But, I also planned to go to the Maine State House to testify in favor of LD 1066, an act to accept the Medicaid expansion for Mainers in need.  We arrived at around 1pm and with my 20 copies of testimony in hand and we left our car on the 4th floor of the garage across from the State House.  As we approached the door to the stairway, a woman suddenly collapsed in front of me.  She dropped like lead right onto her face, without breaking her fall in any way.   The woman with her was walking ahead and we all heard the thump.  Judy, the woman who fell, was knocked unconscious and she likely broke her nose and maybe other facial bones.  There was a lot of bleeding.  I immediately went to her side, plopped onto my rump on the ground and assessed her airway and pulse and her medical alert bracelet.  She was breathing, thank God.  I talked to her over and over, for about 3 to 4 minutes until she slowly came around.  I wasn’t the only one to help.  A group of complete strangers gathered and offered help.  One called 911.  Judy’s friend called her family and left messages for them.  Another lady brought a blanket to keep Judy warm.  Mike stood by in case we needed anything.  Then the EMTs arrived (heroes, each and every one of them).  Who knew that you cannot bring an ambulance up into that garage?  They lugged all their equipment up 3 flights of stairs.  They quickly and efficiently assessed Judy, and rolled her onto a back board, stabilized her neck, got some history from me, and then carried her back down those stairs.  They also facilitated Judy’s friend’s trip to the hospital ER, by telling her to bring her car around and to follow the second emergency vehicle…they showed her the way.  A very concerned and helpful  group of strangers rallied around Judy, to help her on her unexpected journey to the Hospital.

Judy was a kindred spirit.  She was on her way into the State house that day to testify against the use of insecticides on School yards and playgrounds.  She wanted to help protect our children from the toxic harm of chemicals.   She is just like me, she is an activist.

Judy’s fall impacted me in huge way.  Her fall is an example of how in one single second, our lives can change.  I suspect that Judy had a brain hemorrhage because of the medication she was on and the nature of her fall.   If I am correct, her life was altered in one second.  She was just beginning her healthcare journey, and already a dozen or more strangers had rallied to help her.  All of us were people who were not afraid to get our hands dirty to help another human being.

800 Mainers, also mostly strangers to each other, showed up on April 3, 2013 at the Augusta Civic Center to get their hands dirty, and to rally around Maine patients.   They came to hear the messages that Rosemary Gibson, and Dr Donald Berwick brought.  There were Healthcare providers, payers, consumers and leaders.  The messages they heard from our fierce bold speakers were that our healthcare system is unsustainable, unless we want to do without everything else we have grown accustomed to in our lives, like schools, libraries, snowplows, and food.   We heard that there is more than one way to get our hands dirty and take care of human beings.  Dr Berwick called them airplanes…..he talked about  discussions in Washington DC, where some said machines can’t fly, and he said “YES THEY CAN, LOOK UP, SEE THEM CIRCLING OVERHEAD!”   Because 800 people came to listen to-oh-so smart speakers and their dire message, I think they are willing to rally.  They are willing to do the work and address the costs and quality issues that we need to improve and sustain our healthcare system.

I was honored and so proud to be part of the MQC event.  I took part in a television interview seated next to Dr Lisa Letourneau and Rosemary Gibson!   I wouldn’t have even imagined that a year ago.  I managed to get back to the State House on April 2 to testify for the Medicaid expansion because I’d hate to think of any Maine woman having uterine cancer (like I did)  and not getting checked for it, because she couldn’t afford the visit to the doctor.  That evening, the MQC  hosted  a dinner at the Senator restaurant for the event planners, staff and speakers.   It was a very warm and inviting group. Everyone introduced themselves and each other.  Then we all trouped off to our homes and hotels to rest and prepare for our huge event April 3.

Judy’s unexpected fall and injury reminded me that she is what our work is about.  Her only thoughts must be to get back on her feet, safely and quickly (without breaking the bank)  and to get back home to her family.   And, eventually, when she is well again she can get back to the State House with her message.   Isn’t that exactly what we all want for ourselves when we are sick, and for all of the patients we work for.   I do believe healthcare reform is happening in Maine.

Although I am very inspired and enjoying the afterglow from the MQC annual conference, I have determined that helping Judy was the most important thing I did during my two days in Augusta.  She grounded me, and removed the stars from my eyes and taught me that helping and humanity is what it is all about.

Addendum:  I got this message just now, about the State of the State show interview.

This our State of the State Show with Rosemary Gibson, Lisa Letourneau and Kathy Day, it will air between April 16-26th

Time Warner Cable affiliates statewide air State of the State on Channel 9 on Tuesday the 16th and 23rd at 7:00 p.m., Thursdays the 18th and 25th at 6:00 p.m., and Friday the 19th and 26th at 10:00 a.m. However, air times may vary due to periodic program preemptions and rescheduling. To check the current Time Warner program schedule in your area, click here.

Other community television stations that are running the program are WOGT, Ogunquit; WVACTV Channel 2, Bethel; CATTV, Baileyville; Harpswell (for latest listings,click here), Freeport; Bath Community Television Channel 14, Mt. Blue Community TV, and Brunswick TV (for latest listings, click here)

April 16-26

Transforming Health Care in Maine


Rosemary Gibson, National health policy advocate, speaker and author. Author of The Treatment Trap.

Kathy Day, Maine Quality Counts Consumer Advisory Council

Lisa Letourneau, MD, Executive Director, Maine Quality Counts

  1. April 4th, 2013 at 21:51 | #1

    Proud to call you a fellow nurse, friend, and patient safety advocate. Your activism is helping all the Judies of the world. At any minute, we are all just one step away from a life-changing trip to the Emergency Room or a lengthy hospital stay. Great work, my friend.

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