We all know that our healthcare system is tough to navigate, especially since COVID-19. But unless we have medical training, most of us don’t know how to avoid the pitfalls marking this very foreign ground. Enter Chicago’s Karen Curtiss’ The Care Partner Project, a 501c3 not-for-profit that provides patients and families with the tools, insider info and know-how to secure safe, quality healthcare, while sidestepping potentially-deadly gaps in the system.
The organization was founded in 2009 by Curtiss, a former consumer research executive who switched paths following the horrific death of her father. What began as a life-saving lung transplant in the country’s top-ranked transplant unit ended seven agonizing months later with his death, caused by a mindboggling series of preventable lapses in care.
First, it was a post-transplant fall. Then, it was pneumonia and a blood clot in the new lung, both the result of an inappropriately long period of traction. This was followed by recurring MRSA and C. difficile infections—which, as his body weakened, eventually proved fatal.
“My dad spent seven months in the hospital—and never left it alive,” says Curtiss, who, in addition to serving as her not-for-profit’s executive director, serves as an advisor to Harvard Medical School’s Division of Pharmacoepidemiology & Coeconomics and is a lifetime member of HPESS, an annual healthcare thinktank hosted by the Dartmouth Institute.
“It opened my eyes to the cracks in the healthcare system—and the need for expert advocacy and guidance. Healthcare workers are heroes, but they’re operating at profound stress levels. Research shows that the rate of diagnostic errors is 10-15%. Now more than ever, they need us to pitch in, too.”
“The Care Partner Project is my way of transforming my family’s grief into something positive for patients, families and providers alike.”
While The Care Partner Project offers numerous services, its top consumer offerings include:
Free, Downloadable Healthcare Checklist-style Guides
These easy-to-read, medically-approved checklists offer little-known tips and guidance on navigating hospital stays, surgeries, COVID care, and pregnancy/childbirth, decoding medical terminology into lay terms. (Shockingly, the U.S. has the highest maternal mortality rate of all developed countries.)
The checklist-style guides tell patients what to watch for, do and say to providers, and when to seek medical help—all delivered in a down-to-earth, reassuring tone. They are easy to download, print and take to doctors’ appointments, surgery consultations, second opinions, ER visits and hospital stays.
No-Cost Patient Advocacy Services for Those without Insurance or Resources
Driven by her father’s death, Curtiss became a board-certified patient advocate, eventually building a network of fellow advocates. Under this unique program, The Care Partner Project arranges and funds advocacy services for individuals in extreme need, leveraging its nationwide network. Some recent initiatives include:
Arranging compassionate, home-like hospice care for a terminally-ill homeless woman.Funding sight-saving treatment for a transgender student, disowned by his parents, who was going blind from a rare eye disorder.Providing in-patient rehab for a young man who had been paralyzed from a stab wound, who as a result, now has a chance at regaining the use of his legs.
Individuals can reach out to participating advocates through the organization’s advocacy portal.
Educational Webinars and Workshops
While Curtiss is a sought-after public speaker, the advocates in The Care Partner Project network also offer virtual and live seminars to community and professional groups nationwide. Topics include how to speak up in healthcare settings, determine if you really need surgery (it’s estimated that up to 40% of surgeries are unnecessary!), and support to loved ones from afar—particularly those hospitalized with COVID.
To date, the group has presented to Rotary and Lions’ Clubs, PTOs, libraries, civic groups, various legal and medical associations, hospitals, senior living communities, AARP chapters, and more. Speakers are available for a nominal fee; some donate their time.
Curtiss encourages patients and their families to take advantages of The Care Partner Project’s many services—and for those who can, offer to support the organization via donations. As fundraiser-in-chief, Curtiss notes that donations are key to expanding its no-cost advocacy services to solo patients who are uninsured.
“Clearly, our healthcare system is straining at the seams,” she says. “But there are ways to ensure you and your family get the healthcare you need—and our mission is to help every way we can.”
Company Name: The Care Partner Project
Contact Person: Karen Curtiss
Email: Send Email
Address:1 Erie Street
State: IL 60611
Country: United States