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Elaine Bohman: Day on the Hill

Bohman Capitol HillElaine Bohman’s advocacy for patient care has moved beyond the Upper Valley Medical Center doors to Capitol Hill.

The quest for ensuring the greatest quality of life possible for patients through activities in state and national associations led Bohman, RN-BC, BSN, CTTS, to new experiences lobbying twice this spring in Washington. She is a nurse in UVMC’s Cardio-Pulmonary Rehab Department.

First, she headed to the Hill in March with fellow members of the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR) to seek support of senators and representatives for a technical correction to a 2008 law.  Her second trip, in April, was part of American Heart Association activities.

On March 3, Bohman and three others representing Ohio and Kentucky were tasked with meeting with their legislators to discuss a request to change a 2008 bill requiring a physician to supervise cardio-pulmonary rehab programs.  The requirement made offering the service more challenging for smaller hospitals, she said.

Also lobbying in D.C. that day were more than 60 other members of the AACVPR.

For an admittedly nervous Bohman, the assignment meant meeting with senators and representatives or members of their staff. In mid-April she received an email that the request for corrective action is getting a “serious look.”

The lobbying has a direct impact on UVMC patients, Bohman said.  The issue is important as prevention through exercise and education programs offered through cardiovascular and pulmonary rehabilitation is less expensive than treating a problem such as stent placement or open heart surgery.

The American Heart Association lobbying focused on requesting more research funding and more emphasis on physical activities for children.

In her message, Bohman pointed out that although heart disease is the number one killer of Americans, only 4 percent of research dollars go toward heart disease.  More attention to efforts to get kids moving was promoted based on the growing number of overweight children, she said.

Bohman, a Versailles area resident, said her previous exposure to politics was through television. “This has brought another whole light to it,” she said of the lobbying.

The experience has raised her awareness and that of coworkers of the importance of keeping abreast of proposals before lawmakers, Bohman said.

“We need to pay attention. What we don’t know can hurt us.” she said. She hopes to continue her advocacy by staying involved with the AACVPR and the lobbying efforts of the American Heart Association.

Bohman said coworkers and cardio-pulmonary department volunteers have been supportive of her efforts on and off hospital grounds.

“This is definitely a team effort. We try to take care of patients and look at what’s ahead,” she said.

Jean Heath, UVMC director of Cardio-Pulmonary Rehab, said she is proud of Bohman for addressing the issues at the state and national levels. “Elaine’s advocacy for standards and guidelines for heart disease will benefit all cardiac and pulmonary departments throughout our state but, most importantly, here at Upper Valley Medical Center and the Premier Health Partners system,” Heath said.