CVS Health Fights Back on High Cost Drugs by Launching Industry’s Most Comprehensive Approach to Saving Patients Money

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New CVS Health initiative seeks to solve one of the nation’s most pressing problems and a major source of consumer financial worry.

Recognizing the threat of rising drug prices and high out-of-pocket costs, CVS Health providing most advanced solutions for prescribers, pharmacists and patients.

CVS Pharmacists are key resource for patients in identifying opportunities to maximize their prescription benefits and save money at the pharmacy counter in communities nationwide.

CVS Caremark mitigating impact of high drug costs by providing members and prescribers with robust information and innovative tools to choose lower-cost prescription drugs.

The high cost of prescription drugs is one of the nation’s most pressing problems and a major source of financial worry for consumers across the nation. While CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) has made significant progress in mitigating the impact of high list prices set by pharmaceutical manufacturers, for too many Americans annual out-of-pocket drug costs are still significant. In response, CVS Health announced today that it is fighting back by launching the most comprehensive program in the industry to help patients save money on their medications.

According to a recent national poll, commissioned by CVS Health, 83 percent of Americans said they were concerned personally about the impact of rising prescription drug prices.[1] As prescription drug prices continue to rise and enrollment in high deductible health plans grows, many patients are shouldering higher costs for their prescription medicine.

CVS Health will address this problem with a robust set of initiatives, including the new CVS Pharmacy Rx Savings Finder, which will enable the company’s retail pharmacists for the first time to evaluate quickly and seamlessly individual prescription savings opportunities right at the pharmacy counter. This new tool further enhances existing savings opportunities the company’s pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) CVS Caremark is currently offering its clients such as the preventive drug lists that make medications for many common, chronic conditions available at a $0 copay. In addition, CVS Caremark provides real-time, member-specific drug costs and lower-cost alternatives to prescribers through their electronic health record system and to CVS Caremark members through the member portal and newly updated app. These programs are part of CVS Health’s commitment to helping consumers find the lowest cost prescription drugs by offering more pricing transparency for prescribers, pharmacists and patients.

“Today’s consumers are faced with higher prescription drug prices than ever before and many of them are now paying for a larger share of their prescription drug costs out of their own pockets at the pharmacy counter due to growth in high deductible health plans,” said Thomas Moriarty, Chief Policy and External Affairs Officer, CVS Health. “Until now, patients haven’t had the appropriate tools available to them to help them manage these costs. To address this, CVS Health is giving expanded tools to patients, prescribers and pharmacists so they can evaluate prescription drug coverage in real-time and identify lower-cost alternatives. We are committed to finding the right drug at the lowest possible cost for patients to ensure they are able to access and stay on the medications they need. That’s our promise.”

At the Pharmacy Counter

The new CVS Pharmacy Rx Savings Finder enables the retail pharmacist to quickly and seamlessly review a patient’s prescription regimen, medication history and insurance plan information to determine the best way for them to save money on out-of-pocket costs – with the primary goal of helping the patient find the lowest cost alternative under their pharmacy benefits plan.

“Our direct experience is that patients who are confronted with high out-of-pocket costs at the pharmacy counter are less likely to pick up their prescriptions and are less likely to be adherent to their prescribed therapy,” said Kevin Hourican, Executive Vice President, Retail Pharmacy, CVS Pharmacy.

“Armed with the information available through our Rx Savings Finder, our more than 30,000 CVS pharmacists can play an important role by helping patients save money on their medications, providing advice on how and when to take them, and ultimately helping them achieve better health outcomes,” Hourican added. “We are beginning this process with our CVS Caremark PBM members and expect to roll it out more broadly throughout the year.”

The Rx Savings Finder will show pharmacy teams:

  1. First, if the prescribed medication is on the patient’s formulary and is the lowest cost option available.
  2. Second, if there are lower-cost options covered under the patient’s pharmacy benefit – such as a generic medication or therapeutic alternative with equivalent efficacy of treatment.
  3. Third, if the patient may be able to save money by filling a 90-day prescription rather than a 30-day prescription.
  4. Finally, if neither a generic nor a lower-cost alternative is available, other potential savings options for eligible or uninsured patients where allowed by applicable laws and regulation.[2]

Pharmacists can also help patients enroll in the ExtraCare Loyalty Program and sign them up for Pharmacy and Health Rewards. Through Pharmacy and Health Rewards, patients receive $5 in ExtraBucks for every 10 prescriptions filled, earning up to $50 in ExtraBucks annually.

At the Doctor’s Office

Another component of the company’s comprehensive savings approach is the recently launched real-time benefits program, which helps bring greater drug price transparency to prescribers and CVS Caremark members. At the point-of-prescribing, providers are able to see the member-specific cost for a selected drug, based on a member’s coverage, along with up to five lowest-cost, clinically appropriate therapeutic alternatives based on the patient’s formulary. PBM members have access to the same information on the CVS Caremark app and member portal. Early results show that prescribers accessing the real-time benefits information through their electronic health record switched their patient’s drug from a non-covered drug to a drug on formulary 85 percent of the time. In addition, when the patient’s drug is covered, prescribers using real-time benefits switch their patient to a lower-cost alternative 30 percent of the time. When the prescriber switched to a lower-cost drug, the difference was approximately $75 per prescription.
“We have been working hard to keep prescription medications affordable for patients,” said Troyen A. Brennan, M.D., Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, CVS Health. “In fact, in 2017, nearly 90 percent of our PBM plan members spent less than $300 out-of-pocket for their prescription medicines. While this signals progress, for those patients that cost is not insignificant. That is why we are committed to doing even more across our enterprise to help patients find and access the lowest cost drug at the pharmacy which ultimately will help improve clinical outcomes and remove higher downstream medical costs from the system.”

Using Pharmacy Benefit Management Solutions

CVS Health is also making a variety of PBM solutions available to help further drive down drug trend for its PBM clients and drug costs for the patients they support. The company’s Point of Sale (POS) rebate offering allows the value of negotiated rebates on branded drugs to be passed on directly to patients when they fill their prescriptions – and the savings from this program can be significant. In 2013, CVS Health led the industry with the introduction of POS rebates to clients, and today nearly 10 million members are covered by and able to benefit from the program.

In 2017, despite manufacturer brand list price increases on drugs near 10 percent, CVS Health PBM strategies reduced drug trend for CVS Caremark commercial clients to the lowest level in five years, keeping drug price growth at a minimal 0.2 percent. In fact, 42 percent of CVS Caremark commercial clients spent less on their pharmacy benefit plan in 2017 than they had in 2016. CVS Caremark helped members reduce monthly out-of-pocket costs and improve adherence to its highest level in seven years in key categories such as diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidemia.

Prescription drug trend is the measure of growth in prescription spending per member per month. Trend calculations take into account the effects of drug price, drug utilization and the mix of branded versus generic drugs as well as the positive effect of negotiated rebates on overall trend. The 2017 trend performance is based on a cohort of CVS Health PBM commercial clients, employers and health plans.

About CVS Health

CVS Health is a pharmacy innovation company helping people on their path to better health. Through its more than 9,800 retail locations, more than 1,100 walk-in medical clinics, a leading pharmacy benefits manager with more than 94 million plan members, a dedicated senior pharmacy care business serving more than one million patients per year, expanding specialty pharmacy services, and a leading stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan, the company enables people, businesses and communities to manage health in more affordable and effective ways. This unique integrated model increases access to quality care, delivers better health outcomes and lowers overall health care costs. Find more information about how CVS Health is shaping the future of health at https://www.cvshealth.com.

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[1] The Morning Consult poll was conducted from February 22-26, 2018, among a national sample of 1992 registered voters. The interviews were conducted online and the data were weighted to approximate a target sample of registered voters based on age, race/ethnicity, gender, educational attainment, and region. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

[2] Prescriptions submitted for reimbursement to Medicare, Medicaid or other federal or state programs are not eligible.

Have a lower leg injury? Don’t just sit there and suffer, get moving!

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iwalkfree

LOS ANGELES, Calif.– Each year, there are millions of people who end up with lower leg injuries. Those who have experienced it know all too well the way it can make something like mobility a new challenge to conquer.

Yet the majority of people need to still be able to get around to go to school, work, run errands, and just continue to participate in life. Time and duties don’t come to a halt with a lower leg injury, so knowing how to get around easier can make a world of difference.

“The last thing people want when they have a lower leg injury is to be holed up in the house and stuck on the couch waiting it out,” explains Brad Hunter, the innovator of iWALK2.0 and the chief executive officer of the company, iWALKFree, Inc.  “There are things people can do to help make it easier during this challenging period. Taking steps to make it easier will help keep people more mobile and less frustrated.”

According to the National Institutes of Health, there are 6.5 million people in the country who need to use some type of device to assist with their mobility. Here are some tips for helping make mobility easier while having a lower leg injury:

1. Consider using the iWalk2.0. Those who use crutches often find that they make mobility more challenging. They keep both hands busy, making it difficult to carry things or even open doors. The iWALK2.0 has been designed to help people easily get around with their lower leg injury and at the same time do so hands-free.

2. Plan ahead. Taking the time to plan out errands and tasks will give people an opportunity to determine which will be the easiest routes and schedules to take. Planning ahead will help people stay organized, determine the routes that are the best for increasing mobility, and will reduce the stress of backtracking.

3. Ask for help. Many people shy away from asking others for help. They don’t want to burden them or feel like they are being a pest. The truth is that most people won’t mind one bit helping out. Don’t shy away from asking for help when it is needed.

4. Look for obstacles. When you arrive at your destination, take a moment to scan the area for what could be potential obstacles. If you know stairs will be difficult, for example, or if you see the sidewalk is blocked off for repair, determine the best way to navigate around it before approaching the area.

5. Getting around. If your lower leg injury is preventing you from being able to drive, determine your other options. Ask friends and family members for rides, and if that is not an option check with your local bus company to see what they can provide. Many public transportation systems offer a home pickup and drop-off option for those in need.

“The important thing to remember is that this is a temporary challenge and you can take measures that will help to make mobility easier during it,” adds Hunter. “We routinely hear from people who love how the iWALK2.0 has made their mobility easier. Our system has helped countless people to navigate the challenge of a lower leg injury with more ease and confidence.”

The IWALK2.0 was developed as a way to help make healing from a lower leg injury more comfortable and to increase the ease of mobility. The original prototype was created by a farmer in Canada.  The concept continued to develop, and the iWALK2.0 was launched in late 2013. Sales really took off when Harrison Ford was photographed wearing it.

The iWALK2.0 is hands-free, easy to learn to use, it’s intuitive, and safe. From the knee up, the leg is doing the same walking motion that comes naturally to it. The device is essentially a temporary lower leg, which gives people their independence and mobility back as they recover from an injury. The device is pain-free, and makes it possible for people to engage in many of their normal routine activities, such as walking the dog, grocery shopping, and walking up or down stairs.

Clinical research, the results of which are on the company website, shows that patients using the iWALK2.0 heal faster, and have a higher sense of satisfaction and a higher rate of compliance. The iWALK2.0 sells for $149 and is available online and through select retailers. Some insurance companies may cover the cost of the device. The device can be used with a cast or boot, and comes with a limited warranty. For more information on the iWALK2.0, visit the site at: http://iwalk-free.com. To see a video of the iWALK2.0 in action, visit: iWalkFree

About iWALKFree
The iWALK2.0 is a hands-free knee crutch, made by iWALKFree, Inc.  It’s a mobility device used instead of traditional crutches and knee scooters. It offers more comfort and independence, with the hands and arms remaining free. The device offers people a functional and independent lifestyle as they are recovering from many common lower leg injuries. For more information on the iWALK2.0, visit the site at: http://iwalk-free.com

# # #

Source:

National Institute of Health: How many people use assistive devices? https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/rehabtech/conditioninfo/people

Move Over Crutches and Knee Scooters, Now There’s Something Hands-Free and Much Better

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iwalkfree

According to the National Institutes of Health, there are around 6.5 million people in the country who use a cane, walker, or crutches to assist with their mobility. Many of these people are prescribed crutches or knee scooters for lower leg injuries. Yet those devices come with their own set of problems, making them difficult to use.

Crutches often lead to muscle atrophy, make it difficult to use the stairs, and if they fall to the floor it can become a gymnastics maneuver to try and pick them up. Millions of people are prescribed crutches or knee scooters for lower leg injuries. Now, those with lower leg injuries have a better option to consider, the iWALK2.0, which gives them hands-free ability to continue walking and having full use of their arms and hands.

“When people have the ability to try out the hands-free iWALK2.0, they can feel what a major difference and step up it is from using crutches or a knee scooter,” explains Brad Hunter, the innovator of iWALK2.0 and the chief executive officer of the company, iWalk Free. “It’s a revolutionary device that helps give people back their independence and mobility while they are healing from an injury. It doesn’t get much better than that.”

Crutches are known for being uncomfortable, often making it difficult for people to remain independent. They take full use of someone’s arms and hands. Leg scooters are also difficult to use because they lack the ability for the person to feel they are getting around in a somewhat normal fashion. These problems are what motivated the iWALK2.0 innovator to find a better, more comfortable way to help heal a broken ankle. The original prototype was created by a farmer named Lance, and when Brad found it he purchased half of the company and innovated the device. Sales really took off when Harrison Ford was photographed wearing it. The rest, as they say, is history.

The muscles around your upper leg and hip atrophy by as much as 2% a day while on crutches. That’s not so with iWALK2.0. Also, one’s blood flow to the lower extremities is typically reduced when using crutches, thus hampering the healing process and the transition between using crutches and walking without them can be difficult, but the iWALK2.0 makes the transition seamless. The iWALK2.0 is an alternative to 2,000-year-old crutches, and won the I-Novo Award for “best design” of any medical product, as voted on by 120,000 medical experts from around the world at an international conference held in Germany.

The iWALK2.0 is hands-free, easy to learn to use, it’s intuitive, and safe. From the knee up, the leg is doing the same walking motion that comes naturally to it. The device is essentially a temporary lower leg, which gives people their independence and mobility back as they recover from an injury. The device is pain-free, and makes it possible for people to engage in many of their normal routine activities, such as walking the dog, grocery shopping, and walking up stairs.

Since 1999, the company has brought thousands of people a more comfortable way to heal from many common lower leg injuries. Made of lightweight aluminum and engineered plastic, the device fits onto the leg, and allows people to do what they have always done. The crutches and knee scooter alternative, it has been the subject of numerous scientific studies and has won multiple awards from Medtrade, the largest medical device show in North America.<

“If you hurt your leg, you have a choice between arm crutches or our leg crutch, the iWALK2.0,” adds Hunter. “With all the benefits of the iWALK2.0 there is no reason to ever want to choose crutches or a leg scooter. The iWalk will keep you moving comfortably throughout the duration of your recovery.”

Clinical research, the results of which are on the company website, shows that patients using the iWALK2.0 heal faster, have a higher sense of satisfaction, and a higher rate of compliance. The iWALK2.0 sells for $149 and is available online and through select retailers. Some insurance companies may cover the cost of the device. The device can be used with a cast or boot, and comes with a limited warranty. For more information on the iWALK2.0, visit the site at: http://iwalk-free.com. To see a video of the iWALK2.0 in action, visit:  iWalkFree.

About iWalk Free

The iWALK2.0 is a hands-free knee crutch, made by iWalk Free, that is a mobility device used instead of traditional crutches and knee scooters. It offers more comfort and independence, with the hands and arms remaining free. The device offers people a functional and independent lifestyle as they are recovering from many common lower leg injuries. For more information on the iWALK2.0, visit the site at: http://iwalk-free.com.

# # #

Source:

National Institutes of Health. How many people use assistive devices? https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/rehabtech/conditioninfo/Pages/people.aspx

DAV’s 2017 Outstanding Disabled Veteran of the Year

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Dr. Kenneth Lee

Dr. Kenneth K. Lee president of the Wisconsin Adaptive Sports Association

Disabled American Veterans (DAV) named Dr. Kenneth K. Lee, a combat-injured Operation Iraqi Freedom and Army veteran, its 2017 Outstanding Disabled Veteran of the Year.

Lee, who deployed as the commander of the Army’s Company B, 118th Area Support Medical Battalion, was injured in November 2004 by a suicide car bomber in Iraq. The explosion resulted in an open head traumatic brain injury and severe shrapnel wounds to his legs, which led to his evacuation back to the states, where he would later be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

While recovering from his injuries, Lee, a rehabilitation specialist, saw how long and difficult recovery could be, often leaving lasting changes. Lee, who resides in Brookfield, Wisconsin, is a volunteer physician at the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic, which the Department of Veterans Affairs and DAV co-host, so he was no stranger to using adaptive sports as therapy. Through his own recovery, Lee propelled himself into the world of adaptive sports to help him deal with the psychological and physiological effects that can often cause an individual to hit bottom.

Within a year of Lee’s retirement in 2013, he formed the Milwaukee Wheelchair Lacrosse team and is now the president of the Wisconsin Adaptive Sports Association (WASA) which runs numerous adaptive sports programs.

DAV National Commander David W. Riley presented Lee the award at the organization’s 96th National Convention in New Orleans.

“Dr. Kenneth Lee is a shining example of everything that is good about our nation and its veterans,” said Riley. “The compassion he shows for other veterans and his work to help them find success is truly the hallmark of this award, and we’re very proud of what he’s doing for this community. At DAV, we truly value the importance and therapeutic effectiveness of adaptive sports and it is vital to have experienced leaders like Dr. Lee involved and carving out a path ahead.”

Despite his injuries and the constant pain in his lower extremities, Lee speaks with gratitude about his time in the Army.

“I got a lot more from the Guard than I put into it,” said Lee. “I joined the military with my eyes wide open. I volunteered to join. I have no regrets.”

Lee and his wife Kate currently live in Brookfield, Wisconsin, with their two children. As a youth volunteer, in 2014 his daughter Leah earned a $10,000 scholarship by volunteering for the DAV at the Milwaukee VA Medical Center. On the same day he will be honored as the charity’s veteran of the year, his son Jonathan has earned the charity’s largest scholarship of $20,000 and will be honored the same morning. They both hope ultimately to serve veterans as physicians through the VA.

About DAV
DAV empowers veterans to lead high-quality lives with respect and dignity. It is dedicated to a single purpose: fulfilling our promises to the men and women who served. DAV does this by ensuring that veterans and their families can access the full range of benefits available to them; fighting for the interests of America’s injured heroes on Capitol Hill; providing employment resources to veterans and their families and educating the public about the great sacrifices and needs of veterans transitioning

About DAV
DAV empowers veterans to lead high-quality lives with respect and dignity. It is dedicated to a single purpose: fulfilling our promises to the men and women who served. DAV does this by ensuring that veterans and their families can access the full range of benefits available to them; fighting for the interests of America’s injured heroes on Capitol Hill; providing employment resources to veterans and their families and educating the public about the great sacrifices and needs of veterans transitioning back to civilian life. DAV, a non-profit organization with nearly 1.3 million members, was founded in 1920 and chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1932.

Learn more at dav.org.

Fiesta Educativa Serves Latinos with Developmental Disabilities

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Dancers

By Ling Woo Liu

In the mid-1970s, long-time Spanish teacher Irene Martinez received a dinner invitation from a friend that would change her life.

Her friend’s husband, Joe Sanchez, was the executive director of one of California’s Regional Centers, which were established in 1966 to serve people with developmental disabilities and their families. That night over dinner, a conversation with Sanchez piqued Martinez’s interest. “It was a combination of what he said and how he said it—he had a deep commitment to what he was doing,” says Martinez. Soon afterward, she applied and was hired to serve as a counselor at the Eastern Los Angeles Regional Center. “From the first day, it just fit,” she says. “I loved what I was doing.”

At the time, center staff had noticed that non-English-speaking families weren’t receiving Regional Center services to the same extent as English-speaking families. As one of the early Spanish speakers on staff, Martinez organized a workshop to inform Latino families about Regional Center services. “There were people from wall to wall,” says Martinez, describing her first outreach event. “Parents talked to each other and word got out to the other Regional Centers. Things started to snowball.”

By 1978, that snowball had grown into an independent organization called Fiesta Educativa (“Educational Party”), founded by the Eastern Los Angeles Regional Center. It was one of the first organizations in the country to serve Latino families with children who have developmental disabilities. The concept of a “party” stemmed from the fact that Latino families respond better to information imparted in casual, familiar settings, like the homes of fellow families, rather than in agency offices. Martinez served as one of Fiesta’s original board members, and since 1998 she has led the organization as its executive director.

Nearly 40 years after its founding, Fiesta’s headquarters remains in Lincoln Heights, a predominantly Latino and Asian neighborhood in eastern Los Angeles, in an office above a strip mall. Signs throughout the building are printed in English, Spanish, Chinese, and Vietnamese. Today, Fiesta Educativa is California’s largest nonprofit organization serving Latino families with children who have special needs. Fiesta has eight parent coordinators on staff and more than 30 volunteers based in offices in Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Jose. The organization works with Latino clients at 10 of the state’s 21 Regional Centers. Funding comes from Regional Centers as well as from event sponsorships.

Fiesta’s programs include family conferences throughout the state that attract thousands of attendees, an autism education program for parents, and a partnership with a counterpart Chinese American organization that trains parents on special education advocacy. In addition, staff members organize regular “Fiestas Familiares” (“Family Parties”) in the homes of families to discuss topics such as special education eligibility and access to Regional Center services. These outreach events, conducted in Spanish and featuring food and music, reach entire families in safe, comfortable settings. “Immigrants have a tremendous amount of knowledge, but our structures don’t always fit them,” says Martinez. “It’s like having a CD but all you have is a cassette player. Fiestas Familiares come from the families themselves—they are organic.”

To reach Latino families who might benefit from their services, Fiesta utilizes a range of culturally appropriate outreach strategies, including a radio talk show, workshops at schools, libraries, and community centers, a monthly email newsletter, and, because many families do not use email, WhatsApp texts and phone “blasts” that play a recording about their upcoming events.

After 19 years at the helm, Martinez, 74, soon will be looking for a successor to lead Fiesta into its fourth decade. Her dream for the organization echoes the dreams that many Fiesta parents have for their children. “Fiesta is my baby,” she says. “And I don’t want it to rely on me. I want it to be independent.”

Source: lpfch.org

Camp Sunshine to hold 23 sessions in 2018 for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families

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Sessions are dedicated to specific life-threating illnesses and provide a reprieve for children and their families on the shores of Sebago Lake in Casco, Maine.

Camp Sunshine recently announced their 2018 program schedule, which features 23 cost-free sessions for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. Each session is tailored to a specific life-threatening illness including, oncology, sickle cell anemia, retinoblastoma, lupus and others.

“Each year we look to enhance our sessions and events schedule to give our families the most rejuvenating experience possible,” said Michael Katz, Executive Director at Camp Sunshine. “Next year’s sessions are going to be a lot of fun with the addition of the opening of our new Tropical Smoothie Café Sports Center.”

While at Camp, families will experience the benefits of empathy and encouragement, recovery and recreation, and hope and inspiration. Throughout each session, families will be able to participate in numerous activities such as rock climbing, miniature golf, swimming in Sebago Lake, and movie night.

Camp Sunshine also annually hosts programs for rare bone marrow failure syndromes, as well as a Spanish speaking session to serve those families for whom Spanish is their first language, and two bereavement sessions for families who have experienced the death of a child from a supported illness.

Camp Sunshine is an award-winning retreat on the shores of Sebago Lake in Casco, Maine for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. For more information about attending Camp Sunshine as a family or volunteer, please email info@campsunshine.org.

About Camp Sunshine
Founded in 1984, Camp Sunshine provides retreats combining respite, recreation and support, while enabling hope and promoting joy, for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families through the various stages of a child’s illness.

Camp Sunshine is the only program in the nation offered year-round with the distinction of having been designed to serve the entire family in a retreat model. The program is free of charge to families and includes on-site medical and psychosocial support. Bereavement sessions are also offered for families who have experienced the death of a child from a supported illness. campsunshine.org.

Women’s Health Initiative

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Women with disabilities face many challenges. Finding adequate basic healthcare shouldn’t be one of them. So CPF created the Women’s Health Initiative. This project is generously supported by 100 women in hedge funds.

The statistics around healthcare for women with disabilities are shocking. For example, the mortality rate of breast cancer is three times higher than for others. The reasons for this are numerous. 80% of US doctors graduate medical school without ever having treated a woman with significant disabilities. Many doctor’s offices lack sufficient knowledge about what is needed to provide adequate care. Physical access is often insufficient. Far too often real medical issues are simply dismissed as a byproduct of cerebral palsy.

This cycle winds up with many issues, ranging from depression and isolation to troubling statistics: such as the greatly increased incidences of cancer.

It is time to transform healthcare for women with disabilities.

CPF and a collaborative network of nationally renowned medical institutions have joined together not only to identify the barriers to better healthcare, but also begin to develop and implement new approaches. This effort began with the generous support of 100 Women in Hedge Funds, one of the nation’s leading philanthropic organizations. Their fundraising efforts have raised nearly $2M for our foundation.

Each of our four partnering institutions is addressing a different aspect of healthcare for women, as we work with them and real women with disabilities to weave their findings together and put forth a comprehensive plan.

  • The Weinberg Family Cerebral Palsy Center at Columbia University Medical Center will investigate gynecological needs and service barriers for women with CP.
  • The Complex Care Service at Harvard’s Boston Children’s Hospital will focus on sexual and reproductive health among adolescents with CP.
  • The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and Northwestern University will promote patient-centered care in mammography.
  • The Center for Cerebral Palsy at the UCLA Medical Center will seek to improve reproductive life planning and obstetrical care for women with CP who wish to become pregnant and start a family.

Critically, women with disabilities will be actively participating in each research project. In the first year, women with CP will be interviewed on their experiences. These survey results will lead to the development of pilot projects aimed at addressing barriers to quality healthcare for women with disabilities.

Continue onto the Cerebral Palsy Foundation to read the complete article.

Woman with Down Syndrome is 1st to Compete in Miss USA State Pageant

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Miss USA Pageant

Mikayla Holmgren made history on Sunday as the first young woman with Down syndrome to compete in a Miss USA state pageant.

The 22-year-old didn’t need to win the crown in order to be recognized with special awards as she brought home the spirit of Miss USA award and the director’s award.

“It’s really fun,” she said. “As I do more pageants and I’m really proud of myself … this is my dream,” Holmgren told ABC Saint Paul, Minnesota, affiliate KSTP.

The spirit of Miss USA award is determined by the judges based on letters that have been submitted by contestants’ family and friends.

One of Holmgren’s friends from her dance classes wrote a letter that was read aloud during the ceremony, said Denise Wallace, the co-director of the pageant.

“Her friend wrote about how Mikayla lights up a room and has no expectation for people to treat her differently. She’s an incredible spirit,” Wallace told ABC News, saying the letter captured everything that they felt encompasses the Miss USA spirit.

The director’s award recognizes a young woman that is a standout in the pageant.

Read the complete article here

Cats Make Great Therapy Animals

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Cats are becoming the pet of choice for emotional support animals

Emotional support animals or comfort animals are often used as part of a medical treatment plan that includes therapy animals. These animals provide companionship, relieve loneliness, and sometimes help with depression and certain phobias, but do not perform tasks that assist people with disabilities.

Although dogs have more traditionally been recruited as therapy animals, and horses are the second most favored, cats are being used more and more. Animals help people heal. They reduce loneliness, depression, and anxiety. They can improve our heart health and get us to exercise more. That’s why many hospitals and nursing homes have programs that bring in dogs and cats and other animals for patients to interact with.

Therapy Cats Come in All Sizes and Breeds

The most important characteristic of a therapy cat is its temperament.

A good therapy cat must be friendly, patient, confident, gentle, and at ease in all situations. Therapy cats must enjoy human contact and be content to be petted and handled, sometimes clumsily.

Therapy Cats must be very calm and tolerant around other people and dogs, as well as being handled and held frequently by others. They must also adapt easily to medical equipment, wheelchairs and unfamiliar noises.

Cats Have Been Known To Perform Miracles in Healing

The vibration of their purring actually has healing properties.

Cats have helped people recover from infections, depression anxiety disorders, surgeries and more! Ask any number of cat owners about the benefits of petting or snuggling with a cat and the responses will likely be the same.

Cats provide their own brand of unconditional love and comfort. They help us relax and cope with the stresses of life in a special way. When our feline friends run to greet us after a long day away, it affects us physically.

Many studies have shown that having a cat can calm nerves, lower blood pressure, help prevent and treat cardiovascular disease, cancer and chronic pain, strengthen the immune system and even help you live longer.

There have been arguments made that therapy animals can work as well as or better than conventional pharmaceutical medicine for helping people relax, lowering stress levels and blood pressure decreases, causing the heart rate to slow down.

Therapy Cats Are Assets in Many Situations

One group that benefits greatly from a little cat-love therapy is children.

Therapy cats have been used to help kids with developmental disorders like autism be more comfortable with the world around them. Therapy cats are also especially valuable to the elderly or when interacting with Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia patients, by stimulating both memory and forgotten emotions.

Certification for Therapy Cats

The first step in preparing a cat to be a therapy animal is to make sure the feline meets basic requirements.

These can vary by organization, but typically include being comfortable in a harness and up to date with shots. A variety of organizations train and certify pet therapy teams. Pet Partners is one of the most well-known national organizations that facilitates and promotes animal-assisted therapy and offers training and registration for therapy animal teams.

Medication for the Human Soul

People who suffer from depression often find solace in the companionship that their pets provide.

The emotional problems that depression brings about can be tumultuous and trying. A furry friend can be just what the doctor ordered, providing a special kind of support that can be considered a type of medication for the human soul, with positive results and no side effects.

The role of cats in therapeutic processes continues to amaze researchers and medical professionals, as we learn more and more about their impact on human lives and healing.

Source: disabled-world.com

Self-Identifying With Your Invisible Disabilities

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By Erica Sabino

Demi Lovato has come a long way from her days acting and singing on the Disney screen. Though she made her debut at the young age of 8 on the show Barney and Friends, it wasn’t until 2008 when she nabbed the lead role in the Disney Channel original movie, Camp Rock, that her career skyrocketed. On the same year of the movie’s premier, she signed a recording deal with Hollywood Records that helped her release her first album, Don’t Forget, which went up to No. 2 on the Billboard Top 100.

Her rise to stardom did not come undeserved. With the success of the movie and her music, Lovato’s popularity saw a tremendous increase, paving the way to cementing her place among other big-named stars in young Hollywood.

Even with all her success, her journey wasn’t all sunshine and roses. Having amassed quite a following on her social media profiles like Twitter and Instagram, the Sorry Not Sorry singer has made it a point to be open about the struggles she has faced and is still facing on an everyday basis.

On October 2011, Lovato entered an inpatient treatment center where she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. “Getting a diagnosis was kind of a relief,” Lovato admitted in an interview. “It helped me start to make sense of the harmful things I was doing to cope with what I was experiencing.”

Her admittance to the rehab facility was not only brought about by the state of her mental health, but also because of her struggles with bulimia, substance abuse, and cutting. Lovato learned to accept her issues and worked hard to find ways to overcome them. She worked with professionals to find a treatment plan that would work for her. “Living well with bipolar disorder is possible,” Lovato says, “but it takes patience, it takes work and it is an ongoing process.”

She understands how hard it is to bounce back from setbacks in life and how some people find it difficult to ask for help. But for Lovato, “asking for help is a sign of strength.” She wants those struggling with mental illness to know that there is always someone who can help and that there will always be a silver lining if they first learn to be strong for themselves.

Lovato has gone through a lot, but instead of letting these obstacles hinder her, she used them to build her strength and has found ways to capitalize on her experiences, so she can help people who are going through the same struggles she continues to go through each day.

Making a big effort to support individuals with mental health, Demi Lovato became the spokesperson for the Be Vocal: Speak Up For Mental Health initiative. Led by Sunovion Pharmaceuticals Inc., this campaign also partnered with five leading advocacy organizations namely, Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, The JED Foundation, Mental Health America, the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the National Council for Behavioral Health.

This initiative calls people to speak up for the support of mental health. It urges them to “be vocal” in an effort to spread awareness and erase the stigma usually associated with this topic. As a strong advocate, Lovato wants to be a voice not only for herself, but also for others. “It’s important to speak up about the things you believe in, because your voice will be heard no matter what position you’re in,” Lovato said in an interview with Elvis Duran for iHeartRadio’s Label Defiers podcast. “I just happen to be in a position where more people would hear my voice than they would have 10 to 15 years ago, so I use my voice to do more than just sing.”

The pop singer has taken big steps to making her voice heard and pushing forward with her advocacy. In an interview with Tracy Smith for CBS Sunday Morning in 2016, Lovato revealed that she bought into the CAST Centers, a clinic in L.A. where she had undergone treatment. When asked why she did it, Lovato simply said that “it just feels good.”

With her passion for her cause only growing stronger, Lovato took on another project and co-produced Beyond Silence, a documentary which premiered in early 2017 that chronicles the experiences of three individuals living with mental illness, particularly bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety and depression. In her interview with Variety, Lovato said that she “hope[s] that this film will show people that there is nothing wrong with having a mental health condition.” It has become another stepping stone for her to inspire people to share their stories and encourage others to do the same. “There’s something about when you speak out and are vocal about your story, it’s very inviting to others who are dealing with the same thing. And if you can make that impact on somebody’s life, it does something for you spiritually that makes you want to tell the story again and again and again.”

Lovato’s reach is not limited to the United States alone. With fans all over the world, she is a global figure who is a living inspiration to many. Talking about mental health on a global scale, Lovato had spoken to Syrian refugee, Muzoon Almellehan, in a video chat about how important education and mental health is especially to people who are living in conflict and suffering. Lovato says “I want to be able to help people have access to mental health care, no matter where they’re from or what they’ve been through… I think it’s very important that someday, we have a curriculum in school where it’s based on mental health.” In their conversation, Lovato also offered Almellehan her help in ensuring that adequate monetary resources are set aside for the promotion of education through humanitarian efforts.

Taking another step forward in her efforts to being heard, Lovato revealed that she would be releasing I Am: Demi Lovato, a documentary about her life and the experiences she had undergone to get where she is now. “This past year has been one of the most transformative years of my life, and I’m looking forward to bringing my fans on this journey of continued growth and self-discovery in both my music and my personal experiences,” the singer said.

Aside from being an advocate for mental health, Lovato is also a big supporter of female empowerment. In collaboration with Fabletics, an activewear brand co-founded by Kate Hudson, the star helped launch the Demi Lovato for Fabletics collection. With designs inspired by her style and strength, the collection remains in line with supporting the brand’s partnership with the United Nations Foundation’s Girl Up campaign, which is a movement to raise funds and awareness for the empowerment of women everywhere, especially those in marginalized countries.

Lovato’s accomplishments in her crusade for mental health have not gone unnoticed. Because of her passion, leadership, and campaign to promote and raise awareness on this issue, Lovato was presented with the Artistic Award of Courage on March 2017 at the Open Mind Gala hosted by UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior.

Demi Lovato has gone through and experienced so much at her age. Today, we all need to recognize that not all disabilities are physical. For the singer, her disability was a brain disorder that was hindering her growth as an individual. Although she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, she does not want this to be the only thing that defines her. Using her powerful voice, she wants the world to know that she is more than just what she struggles from. She wants people to look at her and see someone they want to emulate: strong, confident, and courageously honest. Through her experiences, she has crafted herself into an inspiring image of what anyone should strive to become, no matter what’s hidden underneath the surface.

“I think what inspires me is remembering that I deserve to be the best that I can be and also knowing people look at me as a role model,” Lovato tells Entertainment Tonight. “It gives me the fire to continue to be strong and try to show people that there’s so much more to life when you take care of yourself and when you are able to be all that you can be.”

Bipolar Disorder: The Invisible Disability

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Do you feel very happy and energized some days, and very sad and depressed on other days? Do these moods last for a week or more? Do your mood changes make it hard to sleep, stay focused, or go to work?

Some people with these symptoms have bipolar disorder, a serious mental illness. Here are some quick facts about this debilitating but invisible disease.

What is bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a serious brain illness. It is also called manic-depressive illness or manic depression. People with bipolar disorder go through unusual mood changes. Sometimes they feel very happy and “up,” and are much more energetic and active than usual. This is called a manic episode. Sometimes people with bipolar disorder feel very sad and “down,” have low energy, and are much less active. This is called depression or a depressive episode.

Bipolar disorder is not the same as the normal ups and downs everyone goes through. The mood swings are more extreme than that and are accompanied by changes in sleep, energy level, and the ability to think clearly. Bipolar symptoms are so strong that they can damage relationships and make it hard to go to school or keep a job. They can also be dangerous. Some people with bipolar disorder try to hurt themselves or attempt suicide.

People with bipolar disorder can get treatment. With help, they can get better and lead successful lives.

How is bipolar disorder treated?

Right now, there is no cure for bipolar disorder, but treatment can help control symptoms. Most people can get help for mood changes and behavior problems. Steady, dependable treatment works better than treatment that starts and stops. Treatment options include:

  1. Medication. There are several types of medication that can help. People respond to medications in different ways, so the type of medication depends on the patient. Sometimes a person needs to try different medications to see which works best.
  2. Therapy. Different kinds of psychotherapy, or “talk” therapy, can help people with bipolar disorder. Therapy can help them change their behavior and manage their lives. It can also help patients get along better with family and friends. Sometimes therapy includes family members.
  3. Other treatments. Some people do not get better with medication and therapy. These people may try electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT. ECT provides a quick electric current that can sometimes correct problems in the brain.

Sometimes people take herbal and natural supplements, such as St. John’s wort or omega-3 fatty acids. Talk to your doctor before taking any supplement.

Getting Help

If you’re not sure where to get help, call your family doctor. You can also check the phone book for mental health professionals. Hospital doctors can help in an emergency. Finally, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has an online tool to help you find mental health services in your area. You can find it here: https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov.

For More Information

National Institute of Mental Health
Office of Science Policy, Planning, and Communications
Science Writing, Press, and Dissemination Branch
6001 Executive Boulevard
Room 6200, MSC 9663
Bethesda, MD 20892-9663
Phone: 301-443-4513 or 1-866-615-NIMH (6464) toll-free
TTY: 301-443-8431 or 1-866-415-8051 toll-free
Fax: 301-443-4279
Email: nimhinfo@nih.gov
Website: http://www.nimh.nih.gov

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
National Institutes of Health
National Institute of Mental Health