DPC works tirelessly on behalf of its patient members to elevate their voice and concerns to elected officials about policy issues that impact ESRD patients. As you know, DPC has expanded its state advocacy efforts over the past year and added two staff members who focus on state issues and government relations.
So, how does an organization continue this level of engagement during a pandemic when state legislatures are recessed, and social distancing doesn’t allow face-to-face interactions? Moreover, most state governments are focused solely on fighting COVID-19 and not passing bills or expanding regulation unrelated to COVID-19.
The COVID-19 crisis has provided an opportunity for DPC to focus on relationship-building activities with state elected officials and their staff, serving as a helpful resource of COVID-19 information specific to dialysis and transplant patients. This in turn has increased awareness about DPC as a valuable dialysis patient-led advocacy organization engaged in advocacy and education on behalf of patients with kidney disease and their families.
From California to New York, DPC has sent thousands of emails in the past month to State Assemblymen, Delegates, Senators, and other public officials containing specific COVID-19 resources and guidance for dialysis patients for legislators to learn more themselves, to share with their constituents and post on their websites.
The response from legislators and their staff has been very good and more than we had anticipated, including several notes of appreciation and multiple inquiries from legislators asking questions or requesting additional resources. As a result, DPC has increased the number of available bilingual fact sheets, facilitated connection with providers on specific questions from legislators, and revealed new advocacy opportunities at the county, municipal and township government levels.
This outreach has opened doors to identify key legislators across the states who can be champions for dialysis patients. The unexpected COVID-19 pandemic has provided DPC with a rare opportunity to leverage our tremendous resources to build an even stronger base of support across the country to advance the issues important to our members.