Center for Patient Partnerships provides credibility for a health advocate

nursing helping an elderly woman stand up

Cindi Gatton had 30 years of experience in the health care industry, on both the clinical and business sides. She took a turn into patient advocacy after helping her parents and her brother through a series of frustrating experiences.

Gatton found herself dealing with doctors who didn’t talk to each other, as well as treatment recommendations that didn’t match. Then there were the vexing issues of cost.

After seeing how much she could do to help her family members, Gatton realized she could have a fulfilling career performing the same service for other patients. She enrolled in the UW-Madison’s Center for Patient Partnerships, which trains people who want to advocate for those facing barriers in the health care system. The program is aimed at people taking care of loved ones, lawyers who need to interpret medical issues, doctors or nurses who want to learn more about the health care system, or people like Gatton who want to become health care advocates.

Seeking a credential

Even with all her experience in the health care industry, Gatton knew she had to thoroughly prepare herself for this new challenge.

“If I was going to promote myself in the world as a patient advocate in a private setting, I needed to have a credential to demonstrate that I was really committed,” she says. “I needed to have to have credibility, and I think the Center for Patient Partnerships is the premier program to demonstrate that.”

Gatton now has her own advocacy business in Atlanta. Her successes include helping a newly diagnosed cancer patient research alternative medical treatment; attending doctors’ appointments with an elderly woman whose daughter lives in another state; and negotiating a reduction in physical therapy charges for a man whose insurance benefits changed during the course of his treatment.

Learn more about UW-Madison’s Center for Patient Partnerships.



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