Deaf? Blind? Across the years, she still speaks

by Joanna Smith on Apr 7, 2014

When I was a young girl, I lived in Easton, Connecticut, a small community of (then) about twelve hundred residents.  One of them was Helen Keller.

When I was seven or eight, I signed up to canvass homes in Easton to collect money for UNICEF, and her home was on my route.

I knocked on the front door and said my earnest speech about collecting for UNICEF. The woman who had answered the door went away and came back shortly with a cash donation and said “this is from Miss Helen Keller”. I asked her to please thank Miss Keller for me, and turned away from the front door.

The landscaping around the home was lovely, with many trees and bushes scattered over the property.  Everywhere I looked there were bird houses and bird feeders of all different shapes and sizes.   I thought to myself, “she must really like birds.”  And then it hit me:  Helen Keller could neither hear nor see. How and why was it that she wanted so many bird houses and feeders at her home?  As a seven year old, I pondered that questions and could find no logical answer.

Today I work as a healthcare advocate with people of all ages and their families—people who are struggling to understand their healthcare needs, make decisions about their treatments and grasp the choices in front of them.  They have many more choices about their healthcare than Miss Keller did.  They are in a totally consuming process that is by nature very self absorbed.  It forces them to look at their lives and priorities and values.  I am privileged to accompany them on these remarkable journeys.

The people I see who manage this journey best are those who continue to stay connected to the world—who put out bird houses and bird feeders—even if they can’t see or hear what those connections actually do.  It is a symbol of the will to be planted here while you can be. And engage in whatever way is possible with life.

It’s Going to be a Wonderful Conference…

by Joanna Smith on Jul 13, 2010

I am delighted to announce that  the 2nd Annual Meeting of the National Association of Healthcare Advocacy Consultants (NAHAC) is fully organized and scheduled for Washington DC, November 4-6 2010!

Everyone–Healthcare Advocates,  Consumers (that’s all of us who receive health care!)  policy makers and legislators—are welcome to attend the three-day gathering of this professional association.  The schedule is just amazing:

*   Come learn how to set up an advocacy business and tips on developing a marketing strategy

*  Listen to expert Healthcare Advocates and Patient Navigators detail case studies and solutions

*  Be inspired by “serial healthcare entrepreneur”  Tim Godzich who grew a “consumer driven health plan”  company (and find out what that means!)

*  Delve into the healthcare insurance maze and learn how to master it

* Learn about complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) approaches to healthcare

*  Understand the complexities of participating in Clinical Trails

* Expand your “tool kit” for navigating the healthcare system for someone of any age

There is much more:  visit the National Association of Healthcare Advocacy Consultants (I founded it just a year ago, and we now have over ninety members) at  Join the Association, come to the Conference and expand your knowledge:  See you in Washington DC in November!

The Blog is Back!

by Joanna Smith on Jan 15, 2010

After several months absence–and many wonderful developments–I am resuming the Healthcare Liaison Blog!  It was a very busy fall…

Healthcare Liaison is expanding the 2010 locations for for its popular two-day workshop “Becoming a Healthcare Advocate:  11 Steps to a New Career in Healthcare”.  These workshops are open to consumers, professional healthcare advocates, those teaching in the field and policy and legislative interests.  We have new locations!

SEATTLE, WA–January 30 and 31st

BERKELEY, CA–February 27th and 28th

TUCSON, AZ–March 20th and 21st

BOSTON, MA–May 1st and 2nd

The links will take you to the brochure describing the workshop and you can complete payment on-line with a credit card or PayPal.  There are still spaces in the Seattle workshop and registrants are eligible for a referral bonus when they “bring a friend”.

In other major news, we have a professional organization!  I founded the organization, the National Association of Healthcare Advocacy Consultants,  in July 2009 and am now the President of NAHAC for 209-2010.  You can read about the Association and join at NAHAC

In November 2009 the newly-formed National Association of Healthcare Advocacy Consultants held its First Annual Conference!  NAHAC  currently has 62 members and membership is open to everyone:  professional advocates, consumers, academicians and policy and legislative participants. Members who were not able to attend the conference can listen to the podcast on the web site and hear workshops on case studies, HIPAA for advocates, insurance-made-understandable and more.  to join:  NAHAC.

We are holding our second annual Conference in Washington DC in November 2010.  Join NAHAC to get the details as soon as they’re released!

Healthcare Advocacy Workshop in October

by Joanna Smith on Sep 2, 2009

Becoming a Private Healthcare Advocate
11 Steps to a New Career in Healthcare

Healthcare Liaison is presenting a workshop for healthcare professionals who would like to be trained in private healthcare advocacy and for consumers who need health care guidance.

The Beautiful Clark Kerr Campus of UC Berkeley

The Beautiful Clark Kerr Campus of UC Berkeley

Google Map for Clark Kerr Campus

October 17th & 18th, 2009
Clark Kerr Campus
Berkeley, CA

Workshop Daily Schedule
8:30 a.m. check in and coffee
9:00 a.m. workshop begins
noon-1 p.m. lunch (on your own)
4:30 p.m. workshop ends

For detailed brochure and to register on-line, please go to