By Michelle Santizo, MSN, RN, PHN
From April 18–20, 2016, I had the honor of advocating for the Lymphedema Treatment Act (LTA). As part of an annual effort on Capitol Hill, we lobbied the U.S. House of Representatives legislation H.R. 1608, along with a companion U.S. Senate bill, S. 2373, that provides coverage of lymphedema garments under Medicare.
I was invited to attend as the ONS representative. It was an experience of a lifetime. As the only nurse present in all of my congressional meetings, I stood firm representing many of the voiceless patients I care for in the Hematology/Oncology Department at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.
Advocacy is not an easy task, but, when there is passion, nothing seems impossible. I had the great pleasure of attending many of my meetings with the LTA President, Heather Ferguson. Because of her tireless efforts, along with many other advocates in the team, there are over 220 U.S. House of Representatives co-sponsors that give the bill a 50 percent chance of passing in the future.
This is good news for the lymphedema community and would be a relief for those patients who have battled with their condition for so long. It is the small victories that make all of the difference. However, as a nurse advocate, my journey does not end here. I will continue supporting the LTA and encourage other nurses to join me in this kind of activism.