Greetings from the Midwest Region!

By: Marie LeGrand

Greetings from the Midwest Region! I am the newest member of the team and as the Regional Director have had the pleasure of meeting so many wonderful people and formed great relationships during the last few months.

As a healthcare leader, my journey has taken me to unexpected places and provided me the opportunity to enhance client and patient satisfaction; by creating and implementing services that promote healthy behaviors, and designing plans around health program expansion and extension. Before joining MSAA, I developed disease prevention programs and monitored the effects within community settings. I worked collaboratively with other nonprofit organizations; in increasing HIV awareness and prevention within underserved communities and high-risk groups in the city of Chicago. Through program development, health promotion, partnership building, and research & development, I created culturally sensitive and educational materials on key health issues.

As the Midwest Regional Director, I will work with MSAA in creating awareness and providing education, programs and services to individuals living with MS and their families. I have had the privilege of speaking and listening to the touching stories of individuals, who have started support groups and fundraising events that encourage others to stay positive and involved while finding ways in which to overcome the challenges of MS. Through them, I am empowered and excited every time I am asked about my profession and the work that MSAA does nationwide for the MS community. I am also pleased when my guests come up to me at the end of a program and proclaim how happy they are with the quality of work that we consistently do for them and their families. For many, it is an opportunity to meet new friends and create connections that will last a lifetime. For others, it is a time to laugh and share stories of encouragement and perseverance as well as giving tips on how to live life fabulously with MS!

In the next few months, I plan to reach out to those living in rural communities and small towns working with expert clinicians and health practitioners in the field to answer questions that many have pertaining to their health. Oftentimes, it is a very scary experience to speak with clinical staff or a physician. The programs are an open forum for many to address issues that are left unanswered in a friendly and inviting environment allowing them to discuss pertinent topics that affect daily living. I have a few educational programs that I am excited about, which covers a variety of topics such as, “The African American MS Patient Experience”, “Multiple Sclerosis in Women”, and “Adherence Matters”. I hope through these programs, many will become more knowledgeable about their MS.

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Hello from the Northeast Region!

Hi all! As the Northeast Regional Director, I plan all of MSAA’s educational programming from Maine to Washington DC. My territory may not look very big on the map, but don’t be fooled! I cover Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Washington, DC. I spend a lot of time traveling throughout the Northeast hosting educational programs for patients, and the last month has been very busy  here.

This week, I wrapped up a four-program series called “MS Update 2013: What’s New in the Treatment of Multiple Sclerosis?” that focused on the latest treatment options in the management of MS. There were three programs in April—one  in Freehold, NJ with Dr. Amos Katz, one in Plymouth Meeting, PA with Dr. Thomas Leist, and one in Cherry Hill, NJ with Dr. Donald Barone—and  the last program was held on May 8th in Staten Island, NY with Dr. Allan Perel. Each program had a lengthy question and answer session at the end, and everyone who attended was encouraged to ask the presenting doctor any questions they had about the currently-approved FDA therapies, research, and general questions about MS. It seemed like everyone learned a lot at these programs, and I was impressed by their thoughtful questions!

In the last month, my travels also took to me Syracuse, NY and Amherst, NY for patient programs on “Managing MS Relapses” with Dr. Lev Goldiner and Dr. Peter Kinkel, respectively. I also made it down to McLean, VA in the DC Metropolitan area, for a patient program on “Managing Your MS” with Dr. James Simsarian and his nurse practitioner, Alona Williamson.

I am so fortunate to be able to attend these programs and meet so many wonderful people that make me so grateful to be able to do the work that I do. At a smaller, more intimate program last month, I had the opportunity to speak with a young man who diagnosed with MS a few weeks before the program, and just days before his wife gave birth to their new baby. I was so inspired by his positive outlook about his diagnosis and wanting to learn as much as possible about MS, so he could self-advocate to ensure he would receive the best care possible.

As many of you know, MSAA hosts hundreds of educational events for both patients and healthcare providers each year. If you live in the Northeast and are interested in attending a program, two are coming up: The Changing Landscape of MS: What Does It Mean for Patients? with Dr. Rock Heyman in Pittsburgh, PA on May 15th and Managing MS Relapses with Dr. Scott Newsome and Kathleen Costello in Baltimore, MD on June 6th. I am also in the process of planning patient programs in Erie, PA, Rochester, NY, Burlington, VT, Maine and New York City over the next few months, and am hoping to expand that list.

Add our Calendar of Events to your bookmarks and check in every so often to see if there is an event in your area! I hope to see you at an event soon!

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Community Matters

Greetings from MSAA’s Western Regional Office! As the Western Regional Director, I have a large territory to cover: California, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Hawaii! I’m often on the road for education programs, and last week was no exception.  We had a wonderful program for neurologists in Woodland Hills, CA with Dr. Andrew Woo on Tuesday, March 12 and another program in Portland, OR with Dr. Liz Crabtree on Thursday, March 14. On Saturday, I went to Las Vegas for a patient education program with Dr. Lilyana Amezcua on “The Changing Landscape of Multiple Sclerosis: The Latest Research and Updates to Help You Live Your Best with MS”.  As always, it was wonderful to spend some time with the dynamic group of MS clients and care partners in Las Vegas.

It’s always amazing to me to come across active groups of MS clients in my travels.  Las Vegas is definitely one of those places!  They have such a strong community of MS clients and care partners there, in no small part due to the work of Darlene Trotsky.  Darlene started a MS Lunch Club seven years ago, and the group is still going strong today!  I remember the first time I had a patient education program in Las Vegas years ago and getting a call from Darlene.  Darlene told me about her group, and offered to help get the word out about the program.  Her energy and commitment to the MS community in Las Vegas was obvious from the start, and this impression was only made stronger once I entered the room for the program.  The level of care and compassion they felt for each other was only matched by their genuine interest in learning as much as they could about MS and better understanding how they could meet the challenges of MS collectively.  There was a recent article in the Las Vegas Review Journal about the wonderful work that Darlene and all involved in her group are doing

The Las Vegas MS client community is a wonderful example of what I see throughout my region as I travel.  From the MS Encouragement Group in Phoenix, Arizona to the Alaska MS Center in Anchorage, I am always touched to see MS clients and care partners creating a real sense of community in their areas, and I think that the power of communities is something that shouldn’t be underestimated.  In that spirit, here are some of my favorite quotes about the importance of communities:

  •  “A healthy social life is found only, when in the mirror of each soul the whole community finds its reflection, and when in the whole community the virtue of each one is living.” –Rudolf Steiner
  • “Never doubt that a small, group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” –Margaret Mead

I’ll end on a personal note.  I feel honored to work for an organization that understands the importance of community and lucky to experience that sense on a local level at all of the education programs I attend.  Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop, has a quote that expresses this just perfectly for me.

“I want to work for a company that contributes to and is part of the community.  I want something not just to invest in, I want something to believe in.” I couldn’t have said it better myself!

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