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My Journey in Advocacy So Far…

Guest post by Advocates Council member Meghan Mimnaugh

I attended the Peggy Lillis Foundation’s Advocates Summit back in August. I wasn’t sure what to expect or what was going to be expected of me

Meghan with her mother Gail
Meghan with her mother Gail

afterward. My mother’s death had a significant impact not only on my life but also on the life of everyone she knew. Sitting there, I realized I could honor her memory by educating others so they do not have to suffer in the way she and our family did. I listened to doctors, scientists, policy experts, C. diff survivors and caregivers discuss the importance of education and advocacy.

Ebola is a household name but only one person in the United States died from it last year. In fact, only four cases in total have been diagnosed. My ten year old knows what Ebola is. In comparison, C. diff, which caused over half a million infections and 29,000 deaths last year, was something I, a college graduate, had never even heard of before the morning my mother was diagnosed. C. diff and other healthcare associated infections (HAIs) are among the leading causes of death in the United States, yet the majority of Americans remain ignorant of their existence.

When I returned home to Rhode Island from the Summit, I began to read and research C. diff and will continue to. I contacted the Department of Health and asked to be added to their Listserv. I put registered for their October 19th meeting on HAIs. I requested my mother’s medical records while she was at the hospital as well as all data related to C. diff in Rhode Island from 2012 to the present. Once I receive that data set, I will expand outward to New England and eventually the entire country.

I recently attended an Oryx Vendor Briefing for my job. In attendance were vendors, staff from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Joint Commission (which accredits the majority of US hospitals). It was a two-day session jam packed with information from all aspects of health care. Sepsis was a huge topic of discussion. CMS has proposed a bundled composite measure for Sepsis for 2016.  Value based purchasing will be affected with this new measure-essentially hospitals will receive incentive payments for providing high quality care.

C. difficile Infections (CDI) were also mentioned on a slide featuring Hospital Value Based Purchasing Program FY 2018 Domain and Measures. CDIs are grouped with others in the “Safety” set. MRSA Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Central Line-Associated Bloodstream Infections and SSI (Surgical Site Infections (CLABSI) to name a few. Quality healthcare and patient safety are two areas that can help C-diff come to light.

HAI’s and antibiotic overuse of are hot and popular topics across the nation right now. Both of these topics put C-diff on the forefront and should be used as a stepping-stone to educate and advocate for patient safety, including a great reduction of CDIs and other HAIs.

So in order to honor my mom and for all those who suffered from this horrible disease I will read, research, speak and advocate. C. diff is preventable! The time is now.

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