All Together Now
- By Laurie Watanabe
- Sep 30, 2021
National CRT Awareness Week is done… but what an exhilarating five days! The highlight for me was Tuesday, the CRT Virtual Fly-In cohosted by NCART and NRRTS. This year’s 220+ Zoom meetings with Members of Congress, Senators, and their staffs equaled the number of meetings for the previous in-person event, while perhaps giving more people the chance to participate, as no travel budget was required.
I was a member of the California delegation, joining consumer Molly Hale; Jeramy Hale, Molly’s husband and caregiver; Joel Marich of Numotion; and Lew Shomer of the Abilities Expo. And while I wondered how much we’d be able to coalesce from the isolation of our own homes and offices, that question disappeared during our rehearsal. We agreed that Molly and Jeramy would lead off the discussions, with the rest of us chiming in as appropriate. By the time I picked out my Fly-In attire later that day — business on top, shorts and fuzzy slippers below the camera’s view — my nervousness had been replaced with excitement.
Our talking points, explained by NCART and NRRTS during a prep session, focused on expediting the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services review of coverage policies for power seat elevation and standing devices; additional financial support for CRT providers and manufacturers; and the inclusion of occupational and physical therapists in the list of practitioners permanently approved to perform telehealth visits.
Once our delegation got going, we found some staffers easy to bond with — Jonathan Kupperman from Rep. Michelle Steel’s office said he’d worked on repairing wheelchairs for a non-profit a few years ago. Others were more reserved. But all were respectful and responsive, perking up whenever telehealth was mentioned.
And my nervousness? Gone, thanks to the California delegation. Before end of day, I was teasingly asking if I could invite them for Thanksgiving dinner. We hope to come together again in person, at the Capitol.
The moral of the story: If I can advocate for CRT, anyone can.
And here’s a little truth I’ve discovered from being a lifelong editor/reporter: Generally, people speak very eloquently about what’s important to them. Yes, preparation is greatly recommended. But if you know your subject and you’re passionate about it… you will find the words when it’s your turn to speak. And those words will be wonderful, because they’re from your soul.
Thanks to everyone who participated in CRT Awareness Week. I’ve missed our in-person gatherings so much, but Awareness Week once again showed how strong we are when we pull together.
Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.