Monday, December 19, 2011

Remembering Your Hollidays

A little over a year ago I met Dr. Chuck Denham, CEO of TMIT  (Texas Medical Institute of Technology) on the stage of the Quality Net 2010 conference in Baltimore.  I had just finished a moving speech about the importance of patient/family access to the electronic medical record.  After I finished speaking, Chuck decided he must meet with me. Before we had even begun the after-speech Q&A, Chuck asked me if I would like to be involved in his massive patient advocacy project with TMIT which is hosted at  I said yes, and we announced on stage that we would work together to promote great positive changes in patient safety in 2011.

Soon after that, I met with his film team.  We filmed a short video at the Institute for Healthcare (IHI) in December 2011.  It was entitled Remember Your Hollidays.  The film team of Collin Gabriel and Matthew Listiak edited the video quickly and it was posted on YouTube in late December. 

Throughout the spring I had conversations with Chuck and Laura Slayton, social media guru at TMIT, about the various safety initiatives of TMIT, including a concept called CareMoms at 

 The focus of CareMoms, as defined by SafetyLeaders, is to engage and develop leaders – who are moms, dads, grandparents, sons, and daughters in the community. These people can bring their power of persuasion to reduce healthcare accidents that cause more than 200,000 deaths in America, and many more globally. These CareMoms/Dads can rally around their local hospitals and give them concepts, tools, and resources that hospital leaders and healthcare governance boards need to "chase zero" accidents and win the war on healthcare harm. 

After discussing this concept with Chuck, I designed his jacket for the Walking Gallery, a patient advocacy movement consisting of wearable art, using an image of a universal and infinite CareMother encircling our world.

Chuck Denham's Jacket: CareMoms

Soon Chuck asked me what I would recommend as the greatest thing that TMIT could create to further the work of patient advocacy. I told him a Speakers Bureau for patients.

For the last six months, the TMIT team has been doing exactly that.   

So last week at QualityNet 2011 in Baltimore, I saw Chuck once again upon the stage.  He spoke of the amazing patient safety initiatives on the way, and he encouraged the entire crowd to visit a site where seeking facilities can find health policy speakers with a patient or patient-centric view.  

I tweeted my joy from the back of the room upon seeing our dream become reality. Then the actress and patient advocate Alicia Cole began to speak. She told a powerful story of her brush with death due to a hospital-acquired infection. She spoke in loving terms of her mother and father who stood at her side as steadfast advocates, thereby saving her life. She mentioned how her mother saw a black spot no larger than a dot from a Sharpie marker - a dot that would have grown and killed Alicia in hours without her mother’s intervention.

Alicia is an amazing patient speaker and embodied the reason why we speak.  Her words can change our world. 

Please remember us this Holiday Season.  Remember the Hollidays.  Remember the Alicias. Remember the black dot that was not a speck of coal within a Christmas stocking, but instead a speck of Cole. Remember a mother who saved her child.

Happy Holidays to all the CareMoms, the CareDads and the patients who suffer; we shall be thinking of you.   

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