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Blog: Hospice Views

Thoughts from a 2012 Caring More Award Winner

undefinedI’d like to thank Crossroads Hospice for honoring me with the2012 Caring More Award.  Truly, I am humbled to have been nominated, and I’m pleased that Crossroads Hospice recognizes the many various contributions of its social workers men and women who work everyday to address to the ongoing needs of the people we serve.  Our clients, patients, and residents confront a unique set of emotional and health-related needs, and there are many dedicated social workers who are just as deserving of this award as I am for their diligence, long hours, and commitment to not only addressing the needs of their clients but also to their own professional development.

I joined the team at the National MS Society Ohio Buckeye Chapter about 15 years ago after earning my Masters of Social Work at the University of Akron.  There, I’m honored to help implement the Society’s efforts focusing on providing a wide ranging continuum of services directed at addressing the diverse needs of those living with MS, from the point of initial diagnosis through to the conclusion of care.

Regrettably, MS is the most common neurological disease leading to disability in young adults. There are an estimated 20,000 Ohioans living with MS and more than 2.1 m people with the disease worldwide.  This chronic illness attacks the central nervous system with unpredictable symptoms, ranging from numbness and weakness to total paralysis.  The disease is typically diagnosed in what most folks consider the prime of life, ages 20-50, although medical professionals have diagnosed children as young as three. MS can affect men, women and children, but women are two to three times more likely to be diagnosed with the disease.

The National MS Society Ohio Buckeye Chapter not only informs Ohioans on how to cope with the disease but also connects them with programs to maintain independence and achieve their highest quality of life.  Recognizing the importance of this comprehensive approach, the National MS Society is investing more than 6.3 million dollars over a three year period focusing on 17 MS-related research projects in Ohio.  I am proud to say that this is one of the largest investments in MS research in the United States.

In Ohio, we recognize March as MS Awareness Month.  A time to acknowledge the dedicated professionals and family members involved in the daily care of people with MS as well as their friends, neighbors, and colleagues, this month also gives us an opportunity to increase awareness of the disease and improve the quality of life for people with MS in our community by partnering with various governmental and corporate entities.

In addition to MS Awareness Month, I’m involved with the MS Society’s advocacy efforts, identifying critical public policy issues impacting the lives of those living with MS.  We build coalitions that call volunteers to action and urge legislators to address the unique needs of both those living with illness.

While there is no known cause, let alone a cure for MS currently, there is hope.  In the past decade, significant advancements have been made in research, including medications approved by the FDA to combat and treat the illness.  These medicines slow the progression of the disease and lessen the severity of the symptoms.  Nobody wants to live with MS; but we do choose to deal with it effectively to ensure that both those who live with MS and their support network have the necessary tools to fight against the disease.

As a Caring More Award recipient, Crossroads Hospice generously provided me with $500 to the non-profit of my choice. Without hesitation, I presented these funds to my chapter of the MS Society, to help continue our fight so that future generations might both more effectively combat the symptoms and, hopefully, eradicate the disease completely.

I’m looking forward to seeing this year’s Caring More Award recipients, and learning more about the causes that drive them.

For more information about multiple sclerosis and the National MS Society, please call 1-800-FIGHT MS (1-800-344-4867) or visitwww.nationalmssociety.org.

By Greg Kovach, MSW, LSW
Director of Outreach Services
National MS Society, Ohio Buckeye Chapter