Friday, October 29, 2010

"More Than Ramps"

PROMOTING ACCESSIBLE CARE: Iezzoni at the Oct. 18 book talk

As part of a series of events and activities held at the MGH in recognition of Disabilities Awareness Month, the Maxwell and Eleanor Blum Patient and Family Learning Center hosted an Oct. 18 discussion about accessible health care with Lisa Iezzoni, MD, MSc, director of the Mongan Institute for Health Policy. Iezzoni's talk touched upon the history of health care access for people with disabilities, strategies for overcoming barriers and how to create safe and accessible health care for all – topics of her new book, "More Than Ramps: A Guide to Improving Health Care Quality and Access for People with Disabilities."

Iezzoni began her talk by sharing information about her own disability. More than 30 years ago, while a student at Harvard Medical School, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease that eventually required her to use a wheelchair. Iezzoni described the challenges she has faced as a student, professor and physician-researcher with MS.

"Disability is the elephant in the room, there, but not often talked about," she said. She used this quote to open the floor for discussion, and attendees with disabilities – both patients and staff members – shared their own experiences and challenges.

In closing, Iezzoni explained that all disabilities have different implications and many accommodation requirements; hospitals need to find solutions that accommodate the majority of people the majority of the time.

"Dr. Iezzoni is a wonderful example to us all," said attendee Sheila Golden-Baker, MS, RN, of the Norman Knight Nursing Center for Clinical and Professional Development. "People with disabilities are ordinary people who have the same needs, aspirations and abilities to succeed as everyone else. I believe she opened our eyes to the realities as well as the possibilities."



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