Peter F. Bornstein, MD, MBA, St. Paul Infectious Disease Associates, Ltd.
May 2020 Advocacy Champion
1. Why is being an advocate so important to you?
According to Merriam-Webster, the word advocate is derived from Latin, meaning to call to aid. As a physician, aiding our patients means more than just the hands on intervention in the exam room or surgery—it means calling all sources to the patient that can aid them, whether referring to another provider, or aiding them at large through community means. I feel I provide the best care to my patients when we work to provide a healthy environment, and help other physicians practice the way they need to, so that they can help our patients. I don’t view advocacy exclusively as the great effort taken to go to the Capitol to meet with legislators, or write letters to leaders, urging them on a course of action, or even going on mission work to other states or countries—advocacy is the little gestures to reach outside the physician-patient dyad to enlist others to help care for our patients. To quote the late Sen. Paul Wellstone, “We all do better when we all do better.” (photo caption: Dr. Bornstein is holding a thank you note from his neighbor for taking care of people.)
2. What health-care related issue(s) have you advocated for over the past year?
While my typical work has been the small acts of advocacy mentioned above, 2020 is shaping up as the year of COVID-19. I have been engaged with both the direct care of patients, as well as working with health systems and the MMA to help physicians and other health care professionals provide care and comfort to patients in as safe a manner as possible. We have much to learn about this disease, and I expect continued advocacy to adapt as the year goes forward.
3. What advice would you offer to others who are interested in advocacy?
Remember to reach out and help our patients and each other in whatever way makes sense to you. It may be with self-care, so that you are able to help your patients going forward. It may be with a simple note or phone call to whatever political leader you think can make an impact. Whatever act of advocacy one chooses, the ripple effects may be known immediately, or may not be known for weeks, months or years. Have faith that your actions—and advocacy—make a difference.