Meet Your Future in Maine: A Discussion on Healthcare Advocacy

September 27, 2017

Johanna Wigg, PhD and founder of The Vicarage by the Sea was honored to be a part of the Meet Your Future in Maine conference recently held at Saint Joseph’s College.

Meet Your Future in Maine: A Discussion on Healthcare Advocacy

The complexity of the healthcare system poses many challenges. Communication is a key component in navigating it. If you work in the healthcare field, are a healthcare consumer, or are pursuing a career in healthcare or patient advocacy, join us for this energetic panel & mixer bringing educators, industry, young professionals, and students together for a discussion on healthcare advocacy in Maine and beyond. This event crosses all industries plus connects students and professionals throughout the state of Maine.

The event starts with networking (includes hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar) followed by the panel discussion.


  • Joel Allumbaugh, CEO and co-founder of National Worksite Benefit Group, Inc. (NWBG), a full service employee benefits insurance agency specializing in patient-centered health plan strategies, serves as the Director of the Center for Health Reform Initiatives at The Maine Heritage Policy Center. He is a licensed life and health insurance consultant and continuing education instructor. Recently Joel partnered with Steve Gerlach, a Chambers rated ERISA attorney and a member of Bernstein Shur’s Labor & Employment Practice Group, to develop the Affordable Care Act Essentials Field Guide. Joel serves on the Advisory Committee on Maine’s Health Insurance Exchange, the Maine Governmental Facilities Authority, and the Maine Guarantee Access Reinsurance Association.
  • Diane Atwood ’77- Her career began as a radiation therapist at Maine Medical Center. Later, she went on to become the health reporter at WCSH 6 for more than 20 years. She left in 2002 to manage marketing and public relations for Mercy Hospital. In 2011, Diane decided to combine the experience and skills she acquired over the years and launched a health and wellness blog called Catching Health. Her blog has since won several awards and recently expanded to include a podcast. She has also made several guest appearances on the Channel 6 Morning Report and the station carries many of her blog posts on its web site. In addition, you’ll find Diane’s work in the Bangor Daily News and several community newspapers and magazines throughout the state.
  • Denise Dumont-Bernier, a licensed physical therapist, is a healthcare leader with over 25 years of experience in the occupational health and wellness field in Maine. Her early career included many years of treating injured employees at the workplace, providing clinical services, ergonomics and preventative training for employers. She developed the successful corporate wellness program for Maine’s third largest health system and for many other companies. She has collaborated with others to develop population health strategies and believes that employers have a critical role and the power to influence healthcare consumerism and to influence community health through their employees and their families.
  • Tony McGuire, PhD, Nursing Program Director at Saint Joseph’s, has served as a critical care RN for 31 years and as a board-certified acute care nurse practitioner for 18 years. Before coming to the College, Dr. McGuire was a faculty member at California State University in Long Beach, California. He is a fellow for the American Heart Association, the chair of the Program Committee at the Western Institute of Nursing, an ambassador to the American Association of Critical Care Nurses, and a nurse researcher at the University of California in Los Angeles, California. His research deals with the effects of depression in cardiovascular patients with a specific focus on acute coronary syndrome (ACS) patients, the utilization of bedside nurses in the identification of depression, and outcomes mediated by depression in this population of patients.
  • Johanna Wigg, PhD, social gerontologist, is President and founder of The Vicarage by the Sea, Inc., a long term care home for those living with memory impairment. The Vicarage offers an alternative approach to care for its residents, focusing on person-centered care and normalization of their daily experience. The Vicarage seeks to enrich the quality of life of each individual, by offering empathic, holistic care in a home environment. The Vicarage culture allows residents to age in place, while educating, involving, supporting and guiding their families and loved ones through each transition, to the end of each day and to the end of each life. Johanna lives at The Vicarage and works hands on with each resident, giving her a thorough understanding of each resident’s needs. She does regular assessments of each resident to ensure that they continue to receive the personalized care they deserve and need. Dr. Wigg has taught at institutions such as Bowdoin College, presented at conferences nationally and internationally, and published in her field. Dr. Wigg is also an independent consultant in her field, working with individuals and families challenged by the complexities of progressive, neurologically degenerative illnesses.

Why a Topic on Healthcare Advocacy?

Every citizen has a stake in our healthcare system and its healthy functioning is the responsibility of everyone to ensure the best possible outcomes. Healthcare Advocacy is one of the keys to ensuring a high level of quality for each individual and the complex interactions among many inter-related organizations and services.

The quality of any individual’s experience in the healthcare system is largely dependent on the ability of providers, professionals, administrators, insurance organizations, state and federal legislatures, and patients to advocate for prevention, research, economics, legislation, and innovation.

The universality of the topic of Healthcare Advocacy is inarguably an aspect of everyone’s personal experience and the many careers and professions that have a stake in the healthcare system.

Healthcare advocacy begins with the individual. No matter what stage in life you are in having a good understanding of your health, the recent changes to healthcare and knowing the type of healthcare coverage that is best for you is the only way to stay health literate.

Health literacy means having the capacity to obtain, communicate, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions (Centers for Disease Control, CDC). Good health literacy is important not only for those currently seeking healthcare, but as well as those taking preventative measures in order to maintain their health. The more you learn about and understand your health, the more you are able to accomplish in this world resulting in a higher quality of life.

Knowing the Facts:

The average annual healthcare costs of those with low health literacy levels are 4 times greater than that of the general population. Health literacy is a better predictor of one’s health status than: age, income, employment, ethnicity, or education level.

You are responsible for your own health and the care that you receive for it. That includes taking preventative action for your health before disease is even present. Heart disease is currently the leading cause of death in America, yet in most cases can easily be prevented by including measures such as eating healthy, becoming more physically active, and instilling an overall healthy lifestyle.

Knowing the Facts:

The average American should aim for at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes a week, of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or a combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. Preferably, aerobic activity should be spread out throughout the week.
An early first step to eating healthier is to limit your intake of fats, salts, and alcohol. Only 10% of your calories should be consumed from saturated fats each day.

Despite the large impact that preventative measures can have on one’s health, sadly not all forms of disease can be prevented. If you catch a virus or get injured unexpectedly, you need to seek out medical assistance for treatment. However, medical costs in the United States can be expensive and can only be supplemented through health insurance. To learn about the U.S. healthcare systems and find the healthcare plan that is best for you start by following these simple steps below, or click on the section that is most applicable to you.

A collaboration between Saint Joseph’s College and  Joint Manufacturing Quality Council (JMQC).

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