Care Planning, Health Literacy, Needs Navigation, Palliative Care
December Volunteer Spotlight: Susan Brown
For our December Volunteer Spotlight, we are recognizing Susan Brown, a patient advocate to her core and resident of Maryland.
Susan Brown has been a NPAF volunteer since 2007. Through her professional work and personal advocacy, she does everything she can to link people to the resources they need to support their health and well-being. She is currently a resident of Aberdeen, MD.
Describe the advocacy work that you’re doing in your community and what motivated you to start?
My advocacy work has no borders. I started out in Vermont working at a cardiovascular practice as the prior authorization tech. It was then and there that the practice administrator told me I needed to put my skills and passion to work for some type of advocacy group, and that’s when I found National Patient Advocate Foundation. After a year, I moved from Vermont to New Jersey where my worked gained a lot more momentum as I started advocating for patients who were being denied services as the billing manager for a large cardiology practice. Now living in Maryland, I have become the resource for the newly formed East Aberdeen Action Committee. My advocacy work links up underserved people with medical resources, and I also volunteer once a month at a local food giveaway, walking the community and talking to folks which is what motivated me the most to get involved in patient advocacy. My recent advocacy work connected a stroke victim who needed services from the Maryland Department of Aging, and sadly another who needed support from the Department of Aging Elder Abuse.
What advice would you give to volunteers who would like to do something similar?
As volunteers we have to step out of our comfort zones and just start having conversations with the people within our communities. Always be ready to actively listen to anyone who wants to just “chat.” It’s amazing what you hear during a general conversation when someone who realizes they can trust and share their struggles with you. They just want a listening ear from anyone who cares. Do not ever be afraid to say you don’t have the answers to their questions, but do offer to help find the sources they need. Be genuine, be empathetic and follow-through.
Since you’ve been a volunteer with NPAF, what are some things you are most proud of?
I am most proud of the patient stories that I was entrusted to share at Patient Congress throughout the years by patients which I had met along the way who needed their voices heard and their stories told. I also am proud of the hours of specialized training I was provided by NPAF as they helped form me into the person I am today. My current accomplishment that I am very proud of is my newly formed connections with Councilman Robert Wagner who is assisting me in the coming months with a resource fair, and MaryAnn Lisanti, State Delegate for Harford County, who is going to work with me on the nutritional needs of the community. These are all things that took a lot of work and perseverance.