I always get nervous before group meetings. I worry that no one will show up or that the material won’t be helpful. Last Wednesday was no exception. When I walked into a conference room at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital I was nervous but shouldn’t have been. I was greeted by smiles, waves, and pizza.

I felt comfortable, accepted, and ready to learn.

ImproveCareNow hosted a Virtual Community Conference last week and, in the spirit of continuous improvement, we tried something new. Two care centers (Cincinnati and Dayton Children’s) hosted watch parties that brought together clinical staff and the families they serve to connect with patients, parents, and staff across the country who were participating at home, from their office, or local coffee shop.

One of the things I hear over and over from patients and their families is that the first time they truly “got” ImproveCareNow was when they attended a Community Conference. In-person Community Conferences only happen twice a year, so we created a condensed version that people can join online. The hope is that we can bring this experience to thousands of patients and family members who are served by centers in the ImproveCareNow network; that everyone can learn and share from their home or with a group of others at their care center.

During Virtual Community Conferences patients, family members, clinicians and friends share their time, their insights, and their expertise. Each event is full of teaching and learning with an energy and enthusiasm that is infectious. The strength of our community is all of them and you. We are so thankful.

During this most recent VCC, we previewed the Patient Advisory Council’s new Travel Toolkit, which was sent to everyone who RSVPed (you can receive it too by signing up on improvecarenow.org.) We heard about the importance of mental health support and resources. We debuted the new Community Engagement Learning Series, which offers trainings that will help you get more patients and families involved at your care center. And we learned together how you can motivate others through personal stories, whether it be your own or the stories of others.

“Everyone’s story matters and is important and can change someone else’s story.” – Sami Kennedy

The strength of ImproveCareNow lies in the experiences and stories of our members – within your story.  When you share it, it’s like throwing a stone into a pond – the ripples touch many things on their journey to shore. You are always invited to share your personal story with the rest of the community by submitting a post to LOOP or you can share others’ stories using Care Cards or existing LOOP posts.

Every time I meet with a group of people in ImproveCareNow the same things happen - I am inspired by the people, I learn something new, and I feel part of something bigger than myself. I am reminded that I’m part of a community that is moving forward together to improve the lives of people with IBD. As the family member of a person with ulcerative colitis, I am thankful for you, for all of you, and look forward to learning and sharing together.

Chris Keck


Stay in the LOOP - sign up for updates and never miss a post! 

Video recordings from the June 13 Virtual Community Conference are ready for you to watch & share.

Help us provide scholarships for parents & patients to attend in-person Community Conferences. You can help by making a donation and/or by spreading the word about this fundraiser. Our goal is to raise $30K by the end of June. Every dollar donated will be matched, up to $25K - we're half way there - let's keep going!!

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