Amanda Vasquez, MSW, LCSW
Amanda Vasquez of Tampa, Florida says, "A social worker is an advocate for patients." Throughout her career, Amanda has helped numerous patients recognize their rights and improve their well-being. Fortunately for the American Diabetes Association, Amanda is also a member of the Health Care Professional Legal Advocacy Network—an advocate for people with diabetes who need help understanding and protecting their rights. She also serves as a member of the Association's Tampa Community Leadership Board (CLB) and is the Advocacy Chair for Tampa and Southwest Florida.
Amanda currently works for the University of South Florida Diabetes Center and, before that, worked in a children's hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida. She has had a lot of experience dealing with the issues of adults and children who have chronic conditions, including diabetes. Then, after getting involved with the CLB, Amanda also began to really understand the issues and barriers to care affecting people who have diabetes. She has heard some of the same issues from parents and children-every day-regarding diabetes care issues at school. For example, many parents must go to school each day to administer insulin to their children, affecting their ability to work. When a parent can't work, it may have a tremendous effect on the quality of life for a family. It may also affect access to diabetes care, especially in regard to the costs of necessary health care resources.
As Amanda commented, "so much of dealing with diabetes is identifying psychosocial needs that may lead to barriers in care and treatment." Financial needs and lack of necessary health care resources can have a major effect on a person's overall diabetes care and management.
Happily, Amanda has seen some improvements in recent years for people who have diabetes. For instance, when she got involved with a family who had home-schooled their daughter for years because of a lack of understanding of the rights of children with diabetes at school, she educated them about those rights, and the girl was then able to enroll in her local school. "It's nice to help families and connect them with resources and information. Sometimes there are easy fixes that can make a big difference."
Another project that has been rewarding is outreach to local police agencies. Recently, after an unfortunate, local incident involving a man who had diabetes, Amanda shared resources with one police agency that has led to in-service training about diabetes for all of that agency's police officers.
Amanda refers people to 1-800-DIABETES (800-342-2383) all the time for help with diabetes rights situations, and encourages other health care professionals to do the same. She also asks others to join the Health Care Professional Legal Advocacy Network and help make a difference.