Contact Your Health Minister or Deputy Health Minister:
Meeting to Get Services for Lymphedema
Follow the below steps to contact your health minister in order to get services for lymphedema:
- Go online and find your health minister’s or deputy health minister’s email. You can also just phone and request a meeting but I think they would prefer email.
- Write a very simple email stating in the subject line that your association is requesting a meeting either by Zoom, phone or in-person. Subject line should read for example: Alberta Lymphedema Association respectfully requests a meeting with (Name of Health Minister). The President of the Association should send this email.
- In the email state exactly what you want to meet about. If it is to get help with payment for treatment, the need for rural therapists or compression garments, for example. Be sure to add contact information on how to get a hold of you including your website address, email and phone number.
- Remember to put your asks in the order of what you would like help with the most.
- You will probably not hear back from them for a couple of weeks but when you do take note of who sent you the email. What you want to do is reply back asap that you have received their email and look forward to hearing from the health minister.
- If you can find the name of the health minister’s assistant or you receive an email from the assistant, be sure to send a note to thank them for returning the email and you hope to hear when the meeting with the health minister may happen.
- If after a couple of weeks they have not gotten back to you with some dates to meet, get on the phone to the assistant and ask if there is something else they need so that they can set a date. The assistant is going to be a good judge of what the health minister’s calendar is like so keep in touch with them.
- In our experience meeting with at least four health ministers, we found that having a primary lymphedema patient and a cancer lymphedema patient was best because each person could speak to what it is like to live with this condition. We also found it useful to have a one- page document about what lymphedema is and how it is treated for them to look at while you are talking. Do not take a lot of paper with you because they do not have time to read it.
- Remember to come prepared for questions like how many people in your province have lymphedema. As we know, it is very hard to figure out the exact number but your best bet is to ask all your therapists to share the number of patients they have and connect with the cancer group to see if they can give you the number of cancer patients they have. We used financial information for the cost of 5 lymphedema CLT treatments compared to the cost of a lymphedema patient ending up in the hospital with cellulitis. When you show them that it is more cost effective to treat lymphedema, they do pay attention. I used my cost of getting cellulitis, which included the emergency room doctor and IV antibiotics and having an infectious disease specialist take a look at me, to having them give me a portable IV and the cost of an over night stay at the hospital.
- When you leave, hand them a one-page document about who you are and what your asks are. That way they have something that summarizes your meeting.
- Be sure to follow up in a couple of weeks to see if there is anything else they need.
Remember this may take a while, but if you stay vigilant you will succeed.