Benefits of Strong Advocates

I recently spent nearly a week at UNC Hospital in Chapel Hill, NC, with my son Phil who was being worked up for a liver transplant. We stayed at a family home similar to a Ronald McDonald house for the families of adult patients. Frequently the patients join their families at the home while they are receiving out-patient care. I started noticing that every single patient there had a strong full time patient advocate – usually, but not always, a family member. People wearing masks, people with no hair… you know they are cancer patients… and they are always in the company of somebody strongly advocating for them. There was the husband of the woman with burns admitted for her third surgery who figured out how he could do his job on line so that he could be at his wife’s bedside during her entire hospitalization. It made me wonder where the patients are that don’t have advocates. Are they not making it to a more sophisticated medical center? Are they not having access to the same level of care that my son is? I found that thought very disturbing. Where are the patients that don’t have someone to speak for them? There is obviously a direct correlation between having a strong advocate and getting the best care possible. Everyone needs an advocate to speak for them when they can’t speak for themselves or they don’t know the right things to say or do.

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