July Volunteer Spotlight: Wanda Clevenger

For our July volunteer spotlight, we are recognizing Wanda Clevenger from Henrico, VA!

Wanda has been a committed advocate since she joined our volunteer network in 2019. In addition to being a volunteer with us, she is an End of Life Doula and also recently became a Board Certified Patient Advocate. She founded We Bridge the Gaps, an education and consultancy group focused on patients being equal participants in the understanding and managing of their health.  Read on to learn more about Wanda’s story.

Describe the advocacy work that you’re doing in your community and what motivated you to start.

This past year, I’ve been immersed in our healthcare system while at the bedside of my brother who suffered a traumatic brain injury. I quickly saw the need for my brother to have a patient advocate by his side. While advocating for my brother, I saw many opportunities for simple steps that would make a huge difference in quality of care and patient outcomes and satisfaction.  Opportunities such as educating the patient on the language of our bodies, eliminating the reliance on medical terminology and using illustrations to better communicate important medical concepts and treatments.  

Recognizing the impact these changes would have in my brother’s care has inspired me to launch WE Bridge The Gaps, an education and consultancy group focused on a new way for patients and providers to relate. This new approach is based on patients being equal participants in the understanding and managing of their health.  

What advice would you give to other volunteers who would like to do something similar?

NPAF has created a community of individuals taking small steps to create change. This community is welcoming and encouraging. 

My suggestion for how to get started is to look around. When you see something that makes you feel like the deck is stacked against you or your loved one, start to peel back the layers. You’ll eventually get to what you can do to make a positive change. It may seem overwhelming at first, but my work and that of others has been served by the encouragement and support of the NPAF and its community. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that others see the value in your passion. 

Since you’ve been a volunteer with NPAF, what advocacy actions are you most proud of?

In 2019, I joined NPAF to be part of an organization committed to empowering patients, families and community members. Through NPAF, I am thrilled to be connected to individuals who are envisioning and laying the groundwork for a different healthcare experience: one where patients are prepared with the information they need to make healthcare and financial decisions that are in their best interest.

Since joining, I’m especially proud of participating in a conference call with Senator Kaine’s office about the importance of Needs Navigation. I’ve also participated in the Get Covered and Be a Hero, Make a Plan campaigns. It’s a great feeling to bring these resources to family members, friends and the healthcare community. NPAF truly guides the development of its community of volunteers. 

Overall, the NPAF volunteer network has shown me that there are teachers all around who are acting on simple and profound ideas for change. I am inspired by this work.