Application DeadlineApplications to the Health Advocacy program are accepted on a rolling basis.
Health Advocacy In the News
The students, faculty and graduates of the Health Advocacy Program are making an impact in the field in a number of ways:
Achievements & Awards
Health Advocacy alumna Lois Steinberg '00 has been named a Purpose Prize Fellow by Civic Ventures for her work as Director of Westchester Programs for the Medicare Rights Center, and particularly her focus on health literacy issues for seniors.
In the News
Alumna Amy Lifson MA '12 and director Vicki Breitbart of the Health Advocacy graduate program are cited in a Journal News article on medical costs.
In The New York Times, Vicki Breitbart, director of the Health Advocacy Program, writes a letter to the editor praising Dr. Pauline Chen’s acknowledgement of the importance of relationship-building in patient care. Dr. Chen highlighted the role of medical receptionists in her recently published article “Unsung Heroes at the Front Lines of Patient Care.”
In a New York Times article about new careers for older professionals, Marleise Brosnan MA ’09 discusses the role she played as a corporate human relations executive, advocating for an ill employee, which led her to pursue a master’s degree in SLC’s graduate Health Advocacy Program.
On WYNC's Brian Lehrer Show, Karlin Mbah HAP ’07 and Betti Weimersheimer HAP ’00, both of the FRIA (Friends and Relatives of the Institutionalized Aged), discuss national health care reform efforts.
In the Philadelphia Inquirer, Laura Weil, former director of the Health Advocacy graduate program, advises people to be aware of potential conflicts when hiring a patient advocate.
In The New York Times, Laura Weil, former director of the Health Advocacy graduate program, talks about the role and objectives of the health advocacy professional.
In an opinion piece in The Journal News, based on a letter she wrote to Congresswoman Nita Lowey, Laura Weil, former Director of the Graduate Health Advocacy Program, discusses current issues in healthcare reform and why there should be a shift in the entire approach to healthcare in the United States.
On Healthcare Professionals Network, Laura Weil, former Director of the Graduate Health Advocacy Program, discusses the unrealistic expectations of patients receiving counseling on medical finances from their physicians. In a letter to the editor of the New York Times, she responds to Medicare’s decision to refuse payment to hospitals for preventable conditions and medical errors that occur with patients, as reported in an article on September 30. On NPR, she compares the old paternalistic model of health care to the current fragmented system, and in the Chicago Tribune she comments on a new patient advocacy trend whereby consumers contract with “professionals to help them navigate the complexities of modern medicine at a hefty price." These services “increase the discrepancy between the health-care haves and the have-nots." Laura is also quoted in a blog on the Chicago Tribune web site on the same topic.
The New Haven Register (PDF) published an opinion piece by Health Advocacy Student Yvonne Bokhour and former faculty member Peter Arno (who is also on the faculty of the New York Medical College, Department of Health Policy and Management) about the economic and health policy implications of underreporting the incidence of Lyme Disease. Their work demonstrates that the failure to enforce the requirement to report cases of Lyme Disease, the most common vector-borne disease in the United States, leads policy and government agencies to underestimate the economic impact of the illness - which Bokhur and Arno estimate to be $300 million a year in Connecticut alone.
Former Health Advocacy faculty member Peter Arno, Ph.D, has compiled, analyzed and published data about the value of "free" services provided by family caregivers to their chronically ill, disabled or aged loved ones. The value of these services has jumped to $306 billion—a 19% increase in the past four years. This state-by-state analysis of the number of family caregivers, hours of caregiving services, and their estimated market value was released by Family Caregiver Alliance and National Family Caregivers Association.
In addition to his former guest faculty position at Sarah Lawrence, Dr. Arno is a health economist at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY. For more information on Dr. Arno's research and on the topic of family caregivers, please visit the Web sites for the Family Caregiver Alliance and the National Family Caregivers Association.
Isela Chavarria '02, graduate of the Health Advocacy Program, celebrated International Volunteer Day at the UN Secretariat in New York as a panelist in a discussion on volunteering and the role of volunteers in responding to natural disasters and 'silent crises' such as poverty and disease.
Isela will soon be working in the South Sudan, in the Blue Nile Region, helping refugees return and reintegrate after many years in exile in Ethiopia. She will monitor and coordinate projects responsible for social, psycho-social, cultural and educational services and will carry out assessments of all refugee needs, particularly the vulnerable groups like the elderly, disabled, single head of households, rape and torture victims, women and children. Her Community Services position with the UN Refugee Agency will combine her professional work in health advocacy with her Peace Corps and previous UN international experience. To keep informed of the situation in South Sudan, please visit: www.UNHCR.org.
While a student, Health Advocacy alumna Maria DeGiglio '07, a consultant, author and IT project manager for Visiting Nurse Service of New York, is featured in an article on MC Press Online entitled Women in IT Speak Out.
While a student, Health Advocacy alumna Jean Anne Cipolla '07 published an opinion piece in The Journal News advocating for Timothy's Law, legislation that would bring parity to health insurance coverage for mental illness and substance abuse. Jean Anne became passionate about financial discrimination in mental health insurance coverage through her own experience with depression and anxiety and by watching relatives and friends struggle to obtain necessary services for their loved ones. She is pursuing health advocacy as a mid-life career change looking to blend her skills as a technical writer and researcher with her desire to help those in need of mental health services get what they need from complicated and fragmented health care and insurance systems.
Health Advocacy alumna Lin Osborn '99, whose passion and profession is helping people "navigate" their way around the health insurance system, is featured multiple times in The New York Times series, "Being a Patient." In Part I of the series Osborn is featured in an article entitled, "Patients Turn to Advocates, Support Groups and E-Mail, Too." The article references the Sarah Lawrence College Health Advocacy Graduate Program. She is also featured in an article entitled "Treated for Illness, then Lost in Labyrinth of Bills," in Part IV of the same series.
An Interview with Health Advocacy Faculty Member Alice Herb
Growth House, Inc. interviews Marsha Hurst about how patient advocates can help people get the health care they need for themselves or loved ones.
Health Advocacy faculty member Bruce Berg published the book New York City Politics: Governing Gotham (Rutgers University Press).
Patient Advocacy for Health Care Quality: Strategies for Achieving Patient-Centered Care, Eds. Joanne L. Earp, Elizabeth French, and Melissa B. Gilkey. Jones and Bartlett. Sudbury, MA: 2008. Health Advocacy Program’s former director Marsha Hurst, faculty members Rachel Grob (also SLC’s Associate Dean of Graduate Studies) and Laura Weil (former Director of the Health Advocacy Program) authored a chapter with Meg Gaines and Sarah Davis (Center for Patient Partnerships, University of Wisconsin) titled “Educating for Advocacy in Setting of Higher Learning.
Stories of Illness and Healing: Women Write Their Bodies, Kent State University Press. Ohio: 2008. Health Advocacy faculty Sayantani DasGupta and former HAP director Marsha Hurst edited a collection of first person accounts of the experience of illness and analytical pieces from prominent writers on narrative medicine. Contributors include Patricia Stanley '05, (and Columbia University faculty) and Maggie Hoffman ( SLC student and founding codirector of Project DOCC, a training program for pediatric medical residents).
An analysis of the potential applicability of EMTALA to the policies of Connecticut Catholic hospitals in treating rape victims
This White Paper, by HAP student Sheila Reynertson, was completed for an internship at Merger Watch. Sheila explains the project in a brief article, which appears in the current issue of the Health Advocacy Bulletin:
"In the Summer of 2006, I worked with an organization called the MergerWatch Project, an affiliate of Community Catalyst, a national consumer advocacy organization. Founded in 1997, MergerWatch originally assisted grass roots advocates in protecting contraceptive services threatened by religious/secular hospital mergers. Today the organization advocates for patients’ rights and access to health care encumbered by a wide range of religiously-based restrictions. MergerWatch continues to address hospital mergers but also has interest in issues such as pharmacy refusal clauses, emergency contraception restriction in Catholic emergency departments, and homophobic doctors restricting access to reproductive technology.
It is a small organization with big ideas and important connections with progressive organizations such as NARAL, Women’s Law Center and ACLU. Lois Uttley, the project director and Reena Singh, the director of advocacy, work together writing grants to fund specific initiatives, field calls from individuals who are denied health care for religious reasons, and foster coalitions among advocates of similar causes across the country.
At MergerWatch I was asked to look into the legal and ethical implications of emergency contraception restrictions in Connecticut’s Catholic Church-sponsored emergency departments. As I began to address the situation through research, I became compelled by the extent to which the federal the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) can address this religiously based policy. Throughout the rest of the summer, I worked on a white paper examining how the issue at hand could be in violation of EMTALA and how best to address it if it is found to have legal standing. Lois checked in with me weekly and opened doors for me to discuss my work with numerous board members of MergerWatch. Periodically I was asked to summarize my findings on conference calls with Connecticut advocates for rape victims and reproductive rights. Most recently, the EMTALA document was passed on to the District Attorney of Connecticut for review.
An internship placement at MergerWatch is an excellent opportunity for a health advocate. I learned an enormous amount not only about the specifics of EMTALA and how Catholic hospital policies are administered, but I also learned how a small nonprofit stays afloat: with healthy endowments and a lot of personality. I felt my work was important for CT advocates, which helped me to strive for excellence and accuracy. This was very rewarding to me and I would recommend this internship to anyone who is interested in research and capacity-building advocacy."
The State of Healthcare IT: Are healthcare providers (and the vendors who sell to them) practicing safe health IT (HIT), and do they have a realistic vision for the future of HIT?
Health Advocacy student Maria DeGiglio recently published this article on the state of healthcare in IT. The article is reprinted with permission from eServer Insight, published by MC Press, LP; www.mcpressonline.com.
Three Stubborn Misconceptions about the Authority of Health Care Agents
This article in the Health Law Journal of the New York State Bar Association (Summer/Fall 2005, Vol. 10, No. 3) was co-authored by faculty member Alice Herb, along with Kathleen L. Burke & Robert N. Swidler, and was inspired by misconceptions about the place of HIPAA language in Health Care Proxies. These misconceptions have been of particular concern to the Westchester End-of-Life Coalition, of which Health Advocacy is a founding member.
Cochlear Implants in Children: Ethics, Informed Consent, and Parental Decision Making
An article co-written by Abby L. Berg and Health Advocacy faculty member Alice Herb and Marsha Hurst. The article was published in the Fall 2005 issue of The Journal of Clinical Ethics (Volume 16, Numer 3).
Narrative Choices: Rooted in Reality, But May Not Be Completely Authentic
A publication Jane baker Segelken, a 2005 Health Advocacy graduate. Sections of the publication were written and developed in the Illness Narratives course taught by Sayantani DasGupta.
The Patient's Voice: A Cry in Solitude or a Call for Community
An article researched and written by Health Advocacy student Patricia Stanley during a field placement internship with the Program in Narrative Medicine. The article was published in In Literature and Medicine, Volume Twenty-Three, Number Two, Fall 2004.
Should Smokers and Former Smokers Have a Lung Scan?
This article by Health Advocacy alumna Julie Weiner Buyon was researched and written during a field placement internship with the Center for Medical Consumers and was published in the Center's HealthFacts in March 2003.
The National Organization for Rare Disorders and the Experiences of the Rare Disorder Community
A study by Marlene Krammer '03 that updates the findings of a 1989 Congressional committee report on the ways in which having a rare disease affects patients and their families.
Changing Social Policy: Grassroots to Legislation
A case study by Liz Lemiska, Eileen M. McCann and 2000 Health Advocacy graduate Margaret Mancuso. The study appeared in the Journal of WOCN, 29(3), 149-163, May 2002.
Community Organizing Principles and Practice Guidelines
By Health Advocacy faculty member Terry Mizrahi, Ph.D. Published in Social Workers Desk Reference, edited by Albert R. Roberts and Gilbert J. Greene, Oxford, 2002 (pp. 517-524).
By Health Advocacy faculty member Michael J. Smith. Published in Social Workers Desk Reference, edited by Albert R. Roberts and Gilbert J. Greene, Oxford, 2002 (pp. 757-763).
Factors Associated with HIV-Infected Women's Use or Intention to Use AZT During Pregnancy
An article by Karolynn Siegel, Helen-Maria Lekas, Eric W. Schrimshaw and 2001 Health Advocacy graduate Jennifer K. Johnson. Jennfer worked on this research at Columbia during her Health Advocacy fieldwork placement, arranged as part of the NYC Health Research Training Program. She was the first student to complete a joint program in Health Advocacy and Human Genetics, earning master's degrees in both fields. The article appeared In AIDS Education and Prevention, 13(3), 189-206, 2001.
Strategies for Effective Collaborations in the Human Services
By Health Advocacy faculty member Terry Mizrahi, Ph.D. Published in Social Policy, Summer 1999 (pp. 5-20).