A Heart for Advocacy
Oct 05, 2017
I have been working in the mental health industry for the past 30 years and have worn many hats from an office manager at a thriving outpatient clinic, to admissions, to billing manager, and for the last seven years as the Financial Coordinator for Avalon Hills. I have seen the eating disorders treatment industry change drastically over this time and I must say that the best years of my career have been at Avalon Hills. I really don't think of working as a job, but rather I serve as a patient advocate for our clients, the families, adolescents and women who have trusted us to help them heal. It breaks my heart that every 62 minutes someone dies as a direct result of their eating disorder, a TREATABLE condition. I feel strongly about Avalon Hills, which is one of the only privately owned eating disorder treatment centers left in the country, has always had the philosophy to "Treat to Outcome", which means allowing for sufficient time in residential treatment so patients can sustain their progress when they are ready (based on the determination of our expert treatment team) to step down to a lower level of care. This is much different than other residential options that only treat to the insurance benefit, discharging prematurely when the insurance company criteria determine. Avalon Hills has allowed me to "think outside the box" and try to get creative in ensuring insurance coverage as much of the patient’s stay possible. My reward is when I win the fight, and I can let families know they can continue to keep their daughters in life-saving treatment. This is truly what fills my tank and fuels my desire to keep fighting for our patients.
Another aspect of my role that I love includes national advocacy.Avalon Hills has encouraged me to go to Washington DC twice a year for the past seven years, and Lobby with the Eating Disorder’s Coalition (EDC). EDC was instrumental in passing the Federal Parity Law, which has mandated in most the United States to treat eating disorders comparably to their treatment of medical conditions. Unfortunately, there are loop holes in this law, and Insurance Companies find ways to try to discharge prematurely. The only means to hold them accountable is to advocate for changes in the laws and to litigate cases where they withheld approvals on care that was deemed necessary based on the APA treatment guidelines for eating disorders.
On October 5th, I will be in Washington DC advocating with the EDC to try to pass new bills that will allow more research, better education in medical schools about eating disorders, and to allow patients to be given the best benefits possible from their insurance, so they can continue in treatment until they are truly ready to discharge based on the assessments of their treating providers, not insurance case managers and staff.
Please join me in calling your Senators and Congressmen, and asking them sign on and support the EDC in passing the bills necessary for patients to receive the coverage they so deserve. This effort takes 5 minutes or less and can truly help!
Today is EDC Capitol Hill Advocacy Day!
If you couldn't join us in Washington, D.C., you can still take action by participating in
Virtual Advocacy Day!
LINKS AVAILABLE ON THE AVALON HILLS FACEBOOK PAGE
As advocates from across the nation meet with the staff of their elected officials on EDC's Capitol Hill Advocacy Day today, join their efforts by contacting your Senators and Representative's offices!
We need your voice! Help us ask Members of Congress to
- Urge CDC to include eating disorders questions on their national surveillance surveys
- Support resolutions to create a Congressionally-recognized National Eating Disorders Awareness Week