Monday, July 16, 2018

Q & A with Award-Winning Arc SF Health Advocate Jane Ross

The Arc San Francisco recently announced the 2018 Walter Slater Award winner acknowledging Health Advocate Jane Ross for her outstanding commitment to improving the health and lives of her clients. 
We caught up with Jane between her client-doctor appointments to ask her about her work--the good and the challenging--and how she feels it makes a difference in the lives of those she supports. 

Jane Ross (r.) with her client Sylvia at UCSF. During her visit, Jane pulled up Sylvia's latest test results on her iPhone, talked about the move to a skilled nursing facility, called Sylvia's partner to share updates, and met with staff. 

Q. How did you become a Health Advocate at The Arc?
A. I had worked at The Arc in San Diego which made for a smooth transition as a Direct Service Professional at The Arc SF. I later supported The Arc health advocacy team through a grant in Later Life Transitions, and from there I became a Health Advocate. 

Q. What in your background prepared you for the challenges of Health Advocacy?
A. I studied Psycholinguistics at McGill University--where my father was a professor, actually. I was always interested in Behavioral Psychology and what motivates people to certain behaviors and attitudes. 

Q. What is it that you like about Health Advocacy? 
A. The personal stories of the clients are interesting--I like getting to know them. And you never know when there will be a breakthrough--you just keep at it, and you can make a significant difference. 

Q. Can you give some examples?
A. I was working with a client challenged with excessive eating. After pushing for genetic testing, she was ultimately diagnosed with Prader-Willi Syndrome. She was then referred to a specialist who works with the client, the family, a nutritionist and other support professionals to help her understand and manage her condition. 
In another example, I work with a client with sleep apnea who needed a CPAP machine to keep her airway open. Because the CPAP requires a face or nasal mask, it's hard to get it right, and the client refused to use it. So we went back and visited with another technician who was very helpful and patient with her. Now she uses it regularly, she gets a good night's sleep and she has totally changed! In one week, her skin looks brighter, she has more energy, she's using an app to monitor her exercise--it's a complete turnaround. 

Q. What advice would you have for health advocates who are just starting to work with individuals with developmental disabilities?
A. Be observant. Keep a high level of awareness about all aspects of your client's life because it all affects their health and well-being. 

To learn more about The Arc SF Center for Health and Wellness, contact Jennifer Dresen, Chief of Health and Housing, at

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