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September Volunteer Spotlight: Sarita Battish
For our September Volunteer Spotlight, we are recognizing Dr. Sarita Battish of Pottsville, Pennsylvania.
By Mary Mukira
Sarita has volunteered with us for over seven years and also supports one of PAF’s grant projects in the patient workgroup. Sarita has a strong passion for patient advocacy. Learn more below about Sarita and how she helps her community.
Describe the advocacy work that you’re doing in your community and what motivated you to start.
It’s like the old saying, “walk a mile in my shoes, then you’ll know.” I was motivated to get involved in patient advocacy because of my own experiences and the experiences of those who are close to me. I was a practicing podiatrist and managed my own podiatry practice until a car accident left me permanently disabled in 2008. While I’ve learned to advocate for myself, it wasn’t until I witnessed an event that happened to my neighbor that I became motivated to be an advocate. My neighbor, who had been recently discharged from the hospital, passed out in our building’s elevator and was rushed back to the hospital with a new head injury. There was no one available to really support her, so I did an online search for organizations that could possibly help and that’s when I learned about NPAF and PAF. That incident led me to talk with my other neighbors about their experiences with healthcare, and I learned that despite all of them having “good” medical coverage, they all had trouble navigating the healthcare system.
Today, talking with my neighbors keeps me engaged with my community. I have given several presentations in senior housing buildings, local organizations and community fairs about NPAF and Patient Advocate Foundation (PAF). I share flyers and pass out literature in the community and participate in events with other like-minded organizations to support legislation that will benefit all patients. I have also testified at the Pennsylvania legislature.
What advice would you give to other volunteers who would like to do something similar?
My advice to a volunteer just starting out would be to make a written plan about what you want to accomplish in your community and then list out ways to best engage with your community. I think that word of mouth, oftentimes, works the best and I like to focus on helping one person at a time.
Since you’ve been a volunteer with NPAF, what are the three things you are most proud of?
I am proud that I can use my voice to help people—my neighbors and my family especially. I am happy to be an asset to my community. I have given people NPAF and PAF resources to help themselves, and I use my medical knowledge to educate them. I am proud that my neighbors trust me and feel comfortable talking to me.
Sarita Battish is a NPAF volunteer and resident of Pennsylvania.