Behind the Scenes | Thursday, April 5, 2018
DDNC Public Policy Forum Q&A With Kathleen Kelly
The Digestive Disease National Coalition (DDNC) Public Policy Forum brings together patients, healthcare providers, industry representatives, lawmakers and their legislative staff for two days of educational programs, legislative updates and advocacy training. The main objective is to brief participants from around the country on federal healthcare legislation and policy and provide the opportunity to educate members of Congress on issues of concern to the digestive disease community.
In an effort to increase SGNA’s representation at the Public Policy Forum, SGNA has made available a number of scholarships to offset travel and housing costs of attending the forum. Here is what scholarship recipient Kathleen Kelly, BSN RN CGRN, staff nurse at Winchester Hospital, had to say about her day on the hill.
How would you describe the significance of this event as it relates to improving public policy and increasing public awareness with respect to diseases of the digestive system?
The DDNC is an important advocacy group for both people caring, or receiving care for a digestive disease. They diligently watch all legislation related to gi healthcare. Both the NIH and CDC are constantly struggling to get the funding they need for continued research, prevention and public awareness campaigns. Many of these are directly impacting the lives of people with a digestive disease. The DDNC is committed to supporting both of these organizations. Programs such as colorectal cancer prevention, screening for viral hepatitis, and IBD are all from both of these federal organizations. DDNC is also a strong advocate for open access to biologics. On a broader scale, they are committed to preserving the basic protections of the Affordable Care Act. The current administration is vehemently opposed to this and would like to see the ACA completely repealed. There has also been a lot of talk for cutting funding to both the NIH and CDC.That is why now more than ever I feel a need to give my support to the DDNC.
Please talk about the importance of advocating for GI issues in general and what motivated you to apply for the scholarship.
As a GI nurse I feel it is important to advocate for our patients. These people often have complicated and expensive care. Their quality of life depends on the care they receive. Our patients are often overwhelmed. When their disease is not is not in control their lives are miserable both physically and mentally. They are often housebound unable to go to work or enjoy anything in their lives. The last thing someone in a flare needs to worry about is if their medicine will be paid for. The recent strong push from insurance companies to change their biologics to a cheaper biosimilar has many of my patients very worried. I feel it is important to also advocate for the continued education of the importance of colorectal screenings. Also for the screening of all baby boomers for hepatitis C. A deadly disease that now has a cure. A cure that is very expensive but should be made available to all. I had already planned on attending the DDNC conference this year when a coworker encouraged me to apply for this scholarship. As a single mother of three daughters, my finances are tight. My last daughter is now in college. This scholarship has very appreciated in helping defer my costs.
What role has SGNA played in helping you elevate your efforts and interest in professional advocacy?
When I started working in GI seventeen years ago I had no idea if I would even like it. To my surprise I loved it! I feel that a big part of this has been my experience with SGNA. I work at Winchester hospital where most of my co-workers are not only NESGNA members but also CGRN certified. With their mentoring and enthusiasm, I joined SGNA in 2012 and received my CGRN in 2012. I’m an active member attending all of our local meetings and a few national conferences. Thru SGNA I have developed a strong sense of pride in my profession and specialty. I truly feel I have become an expert in GI nursing, This confidence has given me the courage to advocate for my patients.
See another DDNC Q&A with Eileen Babb here.