Consumer Reports Safe Patient Project Summit 2017

I’ve been working with Consumer Reports’ Safe Patient Project for a couple years. I love working with all of the patient safety advocates. There isn’t a whole lot I wouldn’t do for them.

This year, their annual summit was in Yonkers, New York. In previous years I have always been able to drive to where I need to be. Give me an open road and tunes, and I’m a happy woman. Now that I moved to North Carolina, driving to New York was not an option.

Now would be a good time to tell you that I am ridiculously, massively, colossally terrified of flying. I’d never navigated an airport by myself, and the thought of being in a flying tin can for two hours literally gave me hives.

Let’s just say that my love for these patient safety advocates is strong enough that I was (only kinda) willing to overcome a huge phobia.

I was scheduled to fly out of Charlotte- Douglas to LaGuardia in New York on October 9th. As soon as I got to the airport, I got a text from the airline saying that my flight was canceled. Hurricane Nate and confirmed tornadoes decided that flights out of Charlotte had to wait until the next day. Luckily, I hadn’t made it inside the airport and I was able to go home to wait it out.

My flight was scheduled for 6am the next morning. I had to be up at 2:30am to be at the airport at 4am. I am NOT a morning person.

As soon as I got to the airport and asked three people where TSA was, my anxiety kicked in hardcore. It went into overdrive when I got patted down at TSA. It was so epic that a police officer came over and asked if I needed help. I was shaking and terrified and I’m pretty sure I made a puddle from all the tears. I am grateful that this officer had compassion. He walked me right to my gate and reassured me the whole way. The photo is blurry but I just had to take a photo with the officer. I never found out his name but I will never forgot how he made sure I felt safe.

*Update: On June 14, I found the officer who helped me with the help of Charlotte-Douglas Airport and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. When I posted about it, it got the attention of Fox 46 Charlotte. The story can be found here.

Because I was delayed, I had to go straight from the airport to Consumer Reports headquarters.


The first speaker was Gregg Gonsalves who spoke about activism and outrage in patient safety. From the moment I sat down, he had my attention.

After a short break, Kathy Day and Lisa McGiffert spoke about Patient Safety Action Network (PSAN), of which I am a proud member. PSAN is a patient-centered network- for patients, by patients.

Right before the lunch break, we took a group photo. To say I am so humbled and honored to work with all of them is an understatement. They make me a better advocate and I love learning from them. Hopefully they learn things from me too. That’s me in the bottom row on the far right.

I also belong to the USA Patient Network, of which I was elected president. There were 8 out of 10 board members at the Consumer Reports summit and we took a moment to take a group photo.

Clockwise from bottom left is me, Jamee Cook, John James, Meghan Mimnaugh, Kim Witczak, Veverly Edwards, Janet Holt, and Linda Radach. (Not pictured: Dru West and Jane Pennington, who unfortunately couldn’t make it).

After lunch, Leah Binder and Jayne O’Donnell talked about hospital transparency and accountability to improve patient safety, and following that was a panel discussion led by Randi Oster, Dr. Kevin Kavanagh, Mary Brennan Taylor, and Doris Peters.

Following that, Dr. Erica Spatz talked about patient rights and informed consent, with a panel including John James, David Antoon, Linda Radach, and Veverly Edwards.

We wrapped up the day around 5pm and a bus took about 30 of us to Half Moon restaurant in Dobb’s Ferry, NY.

This place was breathtaking; right on the Hudson River.

It was a fun evening. Great people, great food, great atmosphere all around.

The second day of the summit began with reporter Ariel Hart and a medical board panel discussion by Marian Hollingsworth, Patricia Kelmar, Jean Rexford, and Carol Cronin. I learned way more than I wanted to know about doctors and sex abuse and how medical boards handle them. It was disturbing and eye opening.

Following that, Kim Witczak and Jamee Cook presented about Post-market surveillance of unstudied drugs and devices.

Carole and Ty Moss presented Lisa McGiffert a gift on behalf of all of us to say thank you for all her hard work with us and in patient safety. We surprised her with it right before lunch break. Lisa is truly impressive and it is an honor to be taken under her wing.

We were joined during lunch break by Jessica Rich, VP of Policy and Mobilization at Consumer Reports.

The entire summit was amazing, but my favorite part was when we did the roundtable discussions. I love, love, LOVE collaboration.

The four discussions were Informed Consent, Medical Boards and Public Accountability, Drugs and Devices, and Transparency and Accountability. I was on the Drugs and Devices discussion.

It truly made me sad when the summit ended. It was an energizing, informative, collaborative summit.

It also meant I had to get back on a plane, which terrifed me.

Luckily, I met an adorable little friend who was my aislemate. Her name is Ingrid. Her owner is an elderly woman from Colombia whose children live in New York and Florida. This flight to Charlotte was a connecting flight for her. She told me that she normally gets dirty looks from passengers when she brings her dog (a tagged and registered emotional support dog) on a flight but I got to pet one of the calmest dogs I’ve ever seen. She thanked me for a full hour for loving on her dog. She asked me to take a photo of her and Ingrid and text it to her daughter, which I happily did. These photos are posted with the owner’s permission.

Although Ingrid is her emotional support dog, I got one too on that flight.

By the time I arrived back in Charlotte, although I was completely exhausted, I didn’t have a complete meltdown.

I’m proud to say that action came from the roundtable discussions. Like I said at the beginnging of this post, I love working with all of these dedicated, passionate advocates.


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