Guest post by Advocates Councilmember Meghan Mimnaugh
A few weeks ago, I attended a Patient Training Workshop sponsored by the National Center for Health Research in Washington, DC. It was a privilege to participate in such an informative and innovative workshop. I met people from all over the country who shared their journey into advocacy. Everyone I met suffered a great loss: a spouse, a parent or their own health declined due to medical error or side effects from a drug or medical device. But each and every one of them is determined to make a difference and advocate for their respective causes.
I learned a lot of information about clinical trials, the process of drug and medical device approval and the players involved (Congress, Food & Drug Administration (FDA), and drug companies). There was a mock FDA panel that showed us the process of speaking to the FDA during a public hearing. The most important lesson that was reiterated to me was the power of one’s own story and how to utilize one’s own voice. It was a very empowering and enlightening experience. As I learn more and more about the importance of one’s own voice in the fight against Hospital Acquired Infections (HAIs), it inspires and motivates me to become a better advocate.
I also had the pleasure of attending the Peggy Lillis Foundation’s 7th Annual Gala last weekend. Christian and Liam put together another wonderful night. Powerful speeches and empowering leaders in the fight against C. diff highlighted the night. I had the pleasure of meeting former New York State Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson who knows first-hand the dangers of C. diff. She has worked, and continues to work hard to bring this disease to the forefront as an immediate danger to patients that needs to be addressed in hospitals and long-term care facilities.
I continue to attend my state’s HAI Subcommittee meetings regularly and participate in as many events as I can. One of the best strategies that I think can help advocates is setting realistic goals. Some days I find myself getting frustrated that there aren’t enough hours in the day for all that I want to accomplish. I continually remind myself to set and reach attainable goals. One of my goals was to publicly speak about my Mom’s story and I was able to accomplish that. Last June, I participated in Partnership for Patients Pacing Event Best Practices and Emerging Strategies for Addressing C. diff. That was the first time I told my Mom’s story publicly for a large audience—and it just so happened the presentation took place on what would have been her 68th birthday. I look back on the past year and a half and can’t help but think of all the people I have met and all the information I have learned.
There is a lot of work to be done in the fight against C. diff, but I am proud to be part of an organization that is making a difference.