Mar 28, 2012
(SPRINGFIELD, Ill.)—Activists from across Illinois converged on the statehouse today to meet with their local representatives and policy leaders to push for legislation to improve the lives of people living with multiple sclerosis (MS) and other debilitating diseases, including gas station refueling accessibility and safe patient handling in nursing homes. The meetings are part of the National MS Society, Greater Illinois Chapter’s MS Action Day 2012, which culminates activities for MS Awareness Month, a month-long initiative by the chapter to increase statewide public awareness throughout March.
“Living with a chronic condition and disability such as multiple sclerosis can be a great challenge,” said Greater Illinois Chapter President John Blazek. “For our MS activists and the 20,000 individuals and their family members across the state affected by MS, coming together to meet with our political leaders is a critical step to enhancing research and improving the lives of all people living with a mobility disability in Illinois.”
To assist people with physical disabilities in refueling their automobiles, the Illinois Public Policy Network (IPPN),composed of the Greater Illinois Chapter and Gateway Area Chapter of the National MS Society,are advocating for HB3878: Gas Station Refueling Accessibility, sponsored by Rep. Patricia Bellock (R-47th District). This legislation requires gas stations to add an accessible calling device or post the station’s phone number directly on gas pumps to make it easier for people with disabilities to communicate with gas station employees.The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires all businesses to provide equal access for their disabled customers, of which in Illinois are one-in-five.
The IPPN is also seeking support for HB5655/SB680: Safe Patient Handling in Nursing Homes, sponsored by Sen. Linda Holmes (D-42nd District) and Rep. Esther Golar (D-6th District). This legislation provides assistance to nursing homes with the adoption of policies to control risk of injuries to both residents and health care workers through evaluation, training and creation of "safe lifting teams."With the implementation of best-practices and creation of these teams, needless injuries can be avoided, promoting better quality of life for residents, increased safety of nursing home staff and significant reductions in healthcare costs.
The Greater Illinois Chapter continues to play a leadership role in MS activism and the broader disability-rights issues in Illinois, building upon recent successes that included the passage of Public Act 097-122: Safe Patient Handling in Hospitals – Signed July 14, 2011. This actamends the Hospital Licensing Act, by ensuring patient safety, dignity, self-determination, and choice in safe patient handling policy, which defines a strategy to control the risk of injury to patients and health care workers associated with the lifting, transferring, repositioning, or movement of a patient. This legislation advances health care access for Illinois citizens with mobility disabilities through improved patient choice, enhanced awareness, skilled and knowledgeable health care workers, and vital safe handling options.
***To take part in Virtual MS Action Day, click here!***
Every hour in the United States, someone is diagnosed with MS, an unpredictable, often disabling, autoimmune disease of the central nervous system. MS interrupts the flow of information between the brain and the body and stops people from moving. The disease affects more than 20,000 people in Illinois, 400,000 in the U.S. and 2.5 million worldwide.
The Greater Illinois Chaptermobilizes people and resources to drive research for a cure and to address the challenges of everyone affected by MS. We envision a world free of MS and move toward that end by driving change through advocacy, facilitating education, collaborating with others and by providing helpful programs and services. For more information, visit MSIllinois.org.