Our Dedicated Activists
NEVER (NorthEast Voices for Error Reduction) is made up of member patient safety and advocacy organizations located throughout the northeast. The mission of NorthEast Voices for Error Reduction (NEVER) is the empowerment of patients and the elimination of healthcare harm by: advocating for patient interests in healthcare delivery; educating the public, the media, elected officials about patient safety, working toward a transparent and accountable healthcare system.
In 2001, Patty and David Skolnik spent nearly three years watching their only child, Michael, play victim to a broken system as a result of unnecessary brain surgery. Due to medical error caused by negligence and incompetence, routine expectations of our healthcare system proved ineffective in providing quality medical care and patient safety for 22 year old Michael Skolnik.
Rep. Adam Goode of Bangor, Maine and 9 other representatives and senators sponsored my bill, now known as Maine LD 1038. A much abbreviated form of my proposal was signed into law by Governor John Baldacci in June 2009. We are now mandated to screen those patients who are at high risk for MRSA when admitted to the hospital. My goal is to help save lives. I only wish I had done it before I lost my father.
We first contacted Laurie Yorke of Clark, NJ last year after we saw her on-line support group for those that have suffered from the side effects of Paxil and other anti-depressants. Three years ago, Laurie almost lost her then 15 year old son, Ryan due to a reaction to a off label use of Paxil. When Ryan started taking Paxil there were no warnings about suicide, aggression or personality changes. After a year on this drug she watched him change into someone she didn’t recognize. He had gone from a social, A student to a lethargic, confrontational, failing student. It was during that time that Ryan attempted to take his own life. Desperate to find out what was happening to her son, Laurie started doing her own research on the Internet…
Kim Witczak and Eric Swan take the fight for good information about prescription drugs very seriously.
In 2003, Kim’s husband and Eric’s brother-in-law, Woody, filled a new prescription from his family doctor for the antidepressant, Zoloft to reduce insomnia and “help manage the stress of a new job.” Woody had just taken a position as Vice President of Sales with a start up company about 2 months prior.
After 5 weeks of being on the drug–Woody took his own life. He had no history of mental illness, depression or any other problem. Woody was not warned about the need to be closely monitored when first going on the drug or when the dose was increased…
On Halloween night 2004, Ann Marie Robinson of California spent the night in the local hospital. “I came out the next day with Clostridium Difficile, something worse than what sent me there in the first place,” she says. Frustrated with the hospital’s response to her problems, she wrote a letter to the editor of the local newspaper last year seeking other people in the same situation. Within 3 days, 46 people had called, and so she created “Infection Connection”…
In Connecticut we worked with Jean Rexford of the Connecticut Center for Patient Safety and individual activists who testified at public hearings and citizen activists who wrote their legislators to push for the passage of SB 160, making hospital infection rates public. Ms. Rexford is the Executive Director of both Connecticut Patients Rights (CPR) and the Connecticut Center for Patient Safety.
Jeannine Christensen’s father died five months after contracting multiple hospital infections post surgery: “Though my dad died back on Nov. 12th of 2004, I feel his loss every day and am constantly remembering how he suffered senselessly…I hope that someday the law will pass whereby others will not have to suffer as much as those like me, my dad and our family have.”
Susan Zalatan shared her husband Tony’s hospital infection story with the Stop Hospital Infection Campaign and later both became dedicated advocates for a public disclosure law in Colorado. After contracting a staph infection at a Denver-area hospital, Tony spent 54 days in a coma and doctors amputated his left leg, right foot and five fingertips. Although the couple was physically, emotionally and financially impacted by the infection, they made a commitment to advocate for a disclosure law so that other people would be less likely to get a hospital infection…
Helen Haskell, founder of Mothers Against Medical Error (MAME), was another key advocate for the Stop Hospital Infection Campaign in South Carolina where she worked with a coalition of other activists (individuals with hospital infection experiences) and organizations (John Ruoff, SC Fair Share; Theresa Arnold, SC AARP; and other) to get the hospital infection public disclosure bill passed into law.
Lisa Toolen’s son, Jimmy, was an active and healthy 15-year old who had out-patient knee surgery in 2005. They never imagined that it could turn into such a life changing event for her family. But that was before he developed a debilitating infection from his surgery that threatened his life and ultimately may leave him permanently disabled…
In 2003, 63-year-old Marion Costa was rushed to the hospital for treatment of a life threatening gastrointestinal bleed. She had to be treated for three different infections: MRSA, a blood infection and C-Difficile. She has been a key activist pushing for passage of a hospital infection reporting bill in her home state of New Jersey. The bill was passed by the legislature and is currently on the governor’s desk for signature.
Ellen has always cared about health care issues, but last November’s Special Election in California really pushed her to get more involved. Ellen worked closely with Consumers Union and other community activists to reduce drug costs by supporting Prop 79.
Ellen has firsthand experience dealing with high prescription drug costs, as her husband pays a lot for his medications every month. With a full-time job, Ellen found the time to connect Consumers Union to local community activists, who together distributed 3,000 “Yes on 79” doorhangers in her neighborhood.
Although Prop 79 was defeated at the polls, good prescription drug legislation will likely move in the legislature this year and Ellen will continue to work with Consumers Union online and offline to get a good bill passed.