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Kansas Member Testifies on Behalf of COPD Resolution

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February 25, 2014

AARC members Karen Schell, left, and Charity Clark, right, visited with HHS committee member Rep. Barbara Bollier during the KRCS legislative day on Tuesday.

Most of us think of our legislative system as moving at the speed of molasses, but when it comes to getting your voice heard, sometimes it takes the speed of light to get anything done.

That’s what happened a couple weeks ago when AARC Director of Government Affairs Cheryl West learned that the Kansas Health and Human Services Committee was once again going to consider legislation calling for a resolution aimed at  “encouraging the creation of a Kansas plan for comprehensive treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease."

West quickly called AARC member Karen Schell, DHSc, RRT-NPS, RRT-SDS, RPFT, RPSGT, AE-C, CTTS, and she and her colleagues in the Kansas Respiratory Care Society (KRCS) began monitoring the situation. “We heard two days before the hearing it was coming to the committee so I called and got on the agenda, notified our board, and we started getting the wheels turning,” says Schell.

Schell wrote testimony to present before the committee and had one of her contacts in Topeka take 50 copies to the office the night before the hearing. Debbie Fox, MBA, RRT-NPS, FAARC, and Suzanne Bollig, RRT-SDS, RPSGT, FAARC, wrote letters of support and asked the KRCS board of directors to do the same, and Fox also sent Schell the list of committee members so she could study their background prior to her testimony.

Schell went before the committee on Feb. 18, explaining COPD to the members and noting that federal readmission penalties are going into effect for the disease on Oct. 1.

“I read my testimony and then they asked me questions,” she says. “They really drilled me for about 30 minutes.” She says she stressed “the importance of education, awareness, and understanding of the chronic disease, with the public needing to know how to recognize, prevent, and maintain to prevent admission and readmission to the hospital.”

The resolution was passed, and while no funding was attached, Schell and her colleagues are excited about the possibilities it has created. She has already been contacted by both the American Lung Association, which did provide written testimony on behalf of the resolution, as well as GlaxoSmithKline, about some funding opportunities.

The saga continued on Tuesday, when Schell and her colleagues went back to their state capital to meet with legislators to thank them for their support of COPD and begin discussions on how to carry out the intent of the resolution.

“Awareness will be the big issue next,” says Schell.