Make it personal

Sunday, May 31, 2009

WASHINGTON--When Michelle Jackson lobbied on Capitol Hill with other rehab providers in April, she didn’t have consumers with her, but she had the next best thing.

Jackson, president and CEO of Frontier Access & Mobility in Cheyenne, Wyo., had a two-and-a-half-minute video to help her persuade lawmakers to rescind the 9.5% reimbursement cut that took effect Jan. 1.

“It personalized the issue,” she said. “We had footage of one young lady using her complex wheelchair to get clothes out of her bureau. It showed how much independence she had. We need to do a better job of this - of showing what we provide and who it values.”

Jackson visited with three lawmakers, including Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., an orthopedic surgeon. She played the video during one visit and left copies behind after her other visits.

In addition to giving lawmakers a better feel for who uses complex wheelchairs, Jackson hopes the video demonstrates all that’s involved in providing the equipment. Another part of the video, for example, shows a Frontier employee using a forklift to unload a complex wheelchair from the back of a truck.

“We had to contract with our community college to train our employees to be forklift certified,” Jackson said. “That may sound small, but when you add it to all the other things, it’s huge.”

Jackson also plans to play the video at Frontier on a big screen TV.

“We want people to say, ‘What’s that all about,’ so we can say, ‘This cut will affect you,’” she said.