Regina Holliday’s #Cinderblocks5 was a patient-led conference by Regina Holliday, a Maryland-based patient advocate, and artist. Regina is well known for founding #TheWalkingGallery in which she paints a series of murals signifying the importance of change in the healthcare environment.

The Walking Gallery consists of patients whose patient stories are painted onto their jackets. The idea is to connect people and improve healthcare. Those that wore their patient story seemed empowered by their patient journey and experiences. The direct connection between policies, individual stories, lived experiences and the need for change in the healthcare system was evident on the displayed painted jackets. In attendance were patients, providers, technicians, artists, informatics professionals, change-makers, government representatives, social media podcaster, blogger, and myself as a vlogger. The theme of this year’s Cinderblocks was “The Many Hats We Wear”. 

Heather Hanline, of Oakland MD presentation on The Dover Center. She presented the correlation between health disparity trauma and sexual violence. She spoke of the many different ways that social determinants of health impact the health of the battered women that seek care and rehabilitation at the Dover Center. Following a pattern of elevating the voice of vulnerable populations was Mary Anner Sterling, CEA of Ashburn Virginia who spoke about the many ways in which the caregiving experience can be improved through reformed policies. As a former caregiver, I related to the many challenges she pinpointed during her speech, i.e lack of resources around caring for the elderly population, etc.

Robb Fulks a new participant to the Patient Orator, Patient Advocacy vlogs shared his patient story. He discussed the many barriers he faced in receiving the care having lived with 4 major illnesses. Rob’s story is unique to his own lived experience but similar in the narrative to the many stories I’ve heard all across the United States. He shared “HIV saved my life because It wasn’t until I was diagnosed that I was able to get the medical coverage I needed, although I’d been living with 3 major diseases before diagnosis”.

Similarly, Ashley Elliot gave a moving speech on the Opioid Epidemic in rural communities. Her Patient Orator story on patient empowerment pre and post sobriety will be added to the vlog discussion in the upcoming weeks. We spoke extensively, on the many issues faced by young people in communities where recreational activities are limited and ways in which that influence drug usage.

Jade Kenney and Kendra Brill spoke about their project, the Rainbow Bridge Home in LA Vale, MD. Kendra shared her own experiences living as a transgendered woman. She shared her experience with the prison system, in which she was denied appropriate medical care. Kendra’s shared her passion for empowering the LGBTQIA community. She expressed that her goal for the Rainbow Bridge Home is to create a safe space at the local level. Kendra stated, “I passionately believe all across America, the time has come to create a movement. A movement that advocates for equality of rights and respect for diversity at the local and national level”.

During the breakout lunch sessions on both days, I spent my time talking to those sitting around me, learning about life in Garrett county as it relates to health access. I was told that the nearest emergency room is located approximately 25 miles away. I inquired about what that meant for those that didn’t have a car; it was clear that should there be an emergency, things could become complicated very quickly for poverty-stricken community members. For those that live in Garrett county, this is the way of life, those that I spoke with had no complaints but were optimistic of change.

In short, we left #Cindeblocks5 feeling re-energized and ready to continue on the journey of bringing the many issues in healthcare to the forefront. #Cinderblocks6 is scheduled to take place in Grantsville, MD on July 18-2019.

Expressing patient stories through art; A recap of Cinderblocks5

Walking Gallery Vimeo | Facebook | How Do You Join The Walking Gallery?

Cinderblocks5 Speakers List