National Women’s Health Week–Celebrate the Women in Your Life

May 12th, 2014 | Author: Katelyn Turner

In honor of National Women’s Health Week, we want to celebrate all of the women in our lives, and encourage them to assess their health.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says, “We know that women are often the ones who make sure everyone – everyone else, that is – in our families are cared for. But too often, we put our own health last. women-and-smoking

But the reality is unless you take care of yourself, you cannot really take care of your family. That means eating right, exercising, quitting smoking, and getting the care necessary to stay healthy.”

COPD is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. More than 24 million Americans are living with the disease, and over half of these people don’t even know they have it. That’s because as people grow older, they mistake symptoms of COPD for regular signs of aging.

What are the symptoms? Increased breathlessness, frequent coughing (with and without sputum), wheezing, and tightness in your chest.

For women, COPD has begun to be an increasing problem.

  • 6.7 percent of adult women have COPD, compared to 5.2 percent of men
  • COPD kills more women every year than breast cancer and diabetes combined
  • Women who smoke are 13 times as likely to die from COPD
  • In 2011, there were over 492,000 hospitalizations for women with COPD

These are all reasons why it is important that you talk to your doctor as soon as you notice any of these symptoms. If you think you may be at risk, you can take our 5-question Risk Screener.

Danger: Bidding Ahead

April 16th, 2014 | Author: Rebecca Rudolph

Like many COPD patients nationwide, you may have experienced trouble accessing home oxygen equipment due to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) program called competitive bidding. This alarming practice has prevented members of our community from accessing life-saving therapies. The COPD Foundation wants you to know we are on it.

What is Competitive Bidding?

Competitive bidding is changing the way that CMS pays for home oxygen supplies. It requires durable medical equipment (DME) companies to apply and be awarded contracts by CMS in order to be providers

(www.rjhedges.com)

(www.rjhedges.com)

for CMS patients. We have seen firsthand how the competitive bidding process has negatively impacted the COPD community by preventing access and causing anxiety among patients, caregivers, and their healthcare providers.

We have been working hard on the competitive bidding issue for two years, but gridlock in Congress has prevented the passage of legislation – making change in the healthcare system difficult. As a result, we have decided to speak directly to CMS through a process known as “submitting comments.”

Why We Have Submitted Comments

There are many benefits to submitting comments to CMS:

  • Comments are an effective way to inform CMS about the negative implications of competitive bidding to patients;
  • CMS takes all comments, including the patient voice, into sincere consideration when making decisions on programs and policy; and, CMS is required by law to respond to all comments as final decisions are made on its’ programs.

Outside of submitting comments to CMS, the COPD Foundation is also lobbying in support of H.R. 1717, the Medicare DMEPOS Pricing Program Act of 2013, which proposes an alternative to the competitive bidding program. Find more information about the bill here.

All COPD patients, or those interested in the issue, should visit our Issue Central page where you can read the comments and sign-on letter.

If you have experienced difficulty accessing your home medical equipment contact the C.O.P.D. Information Line (1-866-316-2673). Our Information Line associates will then officially file the complaint with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Help us help you by completing this survey.

AARC’s Capitol Hill Advocacy Day–A Firsthand Account

April 14th, 2014 | Author: Aimee Bulthuis

Earlier this month, the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC) hosted its annual Capitol Hill Advocacy Day. Over 100 respiratory therapists and patient advocates hit the Hill asking their legislators to support HR 2619, The Medicare Respiratory Therapist Access Act.  These tenacious advocates arranged over 325 congressional meetings to discuss the importance of patient access to RTs and the necessity of education for disease management.

Tabatha Dragonberry, a respiratory therapist from Virginia, attended the event and provides her first-hand account below:

Tabatha Dragonberry, RT

Tabatha Dragonberry, RT

“This is the first year that I have gone and the state of Virginia had patients join us. This bill is about the patients and getting them access to respiratory therapists in doctors’ offices and clinics. These amazing patients spoke on why they feel it is important to have access to RTs. They discussed how RTs can assist them in learning more about self-management and taking control of their disease. It was great to have them join us because in the end this bill is all about them and getting them access to RTs.

I learned that one of the patients had used his inhaler improperly for five years because in his care he was never taught the correct use. It is amazing that this happens. If you go to an orthopedic surgeon, it is a given you will see a physical therapist, but for patients with pulmonary disease they do not have access to RTs on the outpatient side. I am sure that if this patient had seen a respiratory therapist at his doctor’s office, he would have learned the proper way to use his inhaler much sooner.

Another difference this year was that I felt was that there were more positive responses from the congressional offices.  They know that healthcare is a hot topic and placing a patch here and a patch there is not going to fix the system.”

We thank Tabatha and all of the patients and RTs who spoke out on HR 2619.  To lend your voice to increase patient access to respiratory therapist visit the AARC’s Capitol Connection page.

E-Cig Poisonings are on the Rise

April 7th, 2014 | Author: Fabiana Talbot

There is a lot of debate surrounding  the use of electronic cigarettes. In 2007, the electronic cigarette or “e-cig” was introduced and has since been celebrated by smokers as a safer alternative to conventional cigarettes. Unlike traditional tobacco, e-cigs vaporize liquid nicotine, which eliminates the inhalation of tar and other carcinogens.

p0403-e-cigarette-poison

(taken from cdc.gov)

Sound like a healthier option? Many say ‘yes,’ but health experts disagree. Officials believe e-cigarettes not only pose serious risks to smokers, but others in their homes as well – particularly children. This week, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)  reported a dramatic increase in e-cig poisonings. According to the report, calls to poison control centers have sky-rocketed from one call in September 2010, to over 200 calls in February 2014.  Approximately half of the calls involved children under 5, and about 40 percent were in adults over 20 years of age.

calls for e-cigarettes have been steadily increasing – from one call in September 2010 to over 200 in February 2014. The study found that calls to poison control centers about e-cigarette exposures were more likely to result in “an adverse health effect” compared to cigarette exposure calls – highlighting the toxic potency of these e-liquids. – See more at: http://www.copdfoundation.org/About-Us/Press-Room/Press-Releases/ID/245/E-Cigarette-Poisoning-Cases-on-the-Rise.aspx#sthash.UnSzufbR.dpuf

Experts hold that these statistics indicate an emerging public health concern caused by a product that is not regulated by the FDA.

“The e-cigarette industry specifically targets children and teens with appealing flavors like cotton candy and gummy bear, and neither these products nor their liquid nicotine refills are currently regulated by the federal government,” American Academy of Pediatrics president James M. Perrin, MD.

Do you think electronic cigarettes should be regulated? Are they generally helpful or harmful? Share with us below.

Make Your Ripple

March 24th, 2014 | Author: Katelyn Turner

Despite being the third leading cause of death in the U.S., COPD is still unknown to many people. Bhavya Malladi and her grandfather, Evani RJ Rao, were among those people when he was diagnosed with COPD in October 2012. Upon his diagnosis, the lack of awareness and knowledge of such a devastating disease shocked Bhavya. She has since made it her mission to educate people around her so that no one else she loved would have to suffer the way her grandfather is.

Evani, 70, spent his life working as a hydro-geologist in India, and was exposed to dust from open field drilling. Although he quit smoking at the age of 53, Bhavya attributes the toxic fumes from his job and 20 years of smoking to her grandfather’s diagnosis. Within a year of being diagnosed, his condition drastically worsened. As she lives in California, and her grandfather lives in India, long phone calls with him have unfortunately become a thing of the past, because simply talking for a long period of time is too exhausting for him.54294429-58e7-4663-a573-6dd5ac829dd3

A fond memory she holds of Evani are long walks with him and her brother to a local candy store in India where they would buy their favorite chocolates and candies. They would walk back home while listening to him tell stories of India. As the years have progressed, this tradition has become impossible for Evani.

Seeing this debilitating disease progress so rapidly, Bhavya began to ask herself, “Why is it still so unfamiliar to people?” Bhavya has decided to honor her grandfather by making a difference.

“Never underestimate the difference you can make. Remember, even a tiny drop can make ripples,” she says.

When her Rangapravesam, an Indian classical solo dance debut, approached, she decided to make a ripple. (Bhavya has been learning an Indian Classical dance form called Kuchipudi since she’s been five. Rangapravesam is an event when the teacher introduces the student to a bigger audience. This event is a student’s solo repertoire two hours long, with a live orchestra.)

In lieu of flowers and gifts for her performance, she asked her guests to donate to the COPD Foundation through her online fundraising page on FirstGiving. She included a small pamphlet in her invitations, and also set up an information booth with COPD brochures for the 500+ attendees. This was her opportunity to spread awareness in her own way.

Bhavya’s ultimate goal is “to spread the word about this disease, so people know about it and take care of it in its early stages,” something they could not do for her grandfather.

To date, she has raised $3,428 for the COPD Foundation’s efforts to spread awareness, educate members of the community, and to one day find a cure.

You too can do your part and make your ripple. Contact the COPD Foundation to find out how you can set up your own Firstgiving fundraising page and make a difference just like Bhavya continues to do.

Please call 1-866-316-2673 or visit: www.COPDFoundation.org for more information.