During the last year I have been reminded four times what happens to families when they are faced with a chronic illness.
I have four friends with multiple sclerosis (MS). One is in his eighties, still active, still involved in his community. Another has been in a nursing home for two years, having had devastating consequences many years ago from the illness. Then, earlier this year, another friend was diagnosed, followed by the sister of one of our clinical staff members who came close to death from an episode of this disease.
All four had different experiences, different reactions, different support systems. Their experiences span the range of illness from mild to severe, but all shared a common challenge -- living and working with a chronic illness.
I think we do a great job in health care diagnosing and treating episodes of illness. Where we need to do more is in supporting the research to prevent or better treat chronic illnesses, and in the care and support we provide outside the traditional health system.
How do we as employers accommodate an employee with a chronic illness? Do our policies adequately cover holistic therapies? How do we as family members support the individual who is going on this journey? Do we consider making a research donation in addition to our direct charitable giving?
This week I was asked to be an honoree at the MS Dinner of Hope. I don't have the illness so I can't speak from experience, but I do have the ability to speak out and support the work of an organization like MS Resources. It provides the education and services to help my friends and colleagues continue to be active members of their families and communities.
Thank you for all you do in our community to provide these needed services, and I am happy to help you raise the resources!
For my colleagues who have a chronic illness, how do we support you in the workplace? What can we do better?
Healthcare reform is asking us all to look at how we care for chronic illness from diabetes, COPD, arthritis, asthma and illnesses such as MS. At St. Joseph's we are looking at ways to better support care in the workplace and in our health homes (primary care offices ). We have more to do.