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Monday, December 19, 2011

A 2011 Christmas Letter

I have a few friends and family who send newsletters every Christmas. I look forward to these missives with great joy. In the days before Facebook, it was the only way to stay abreast of the life events of distant friends. In these days of instant messaging and social media, I find them still a wonderful source of information and something more. A Christmas letter is a retelling of one year in the life of a family and it is amazing to see 365 days of important events unfold within a few sparse paragraphs. I love to see the march of time as told by a family matriarch or patriarch. I love to read the words of my late husband’s best friend from college, even if his news is sad to hear.

So, this year I decided to write a Christmas letter. Whether you read this on a page of paper or via backlit screen, know that I am happy to share our life with you this joyous season.

“How are the boys?” I hear this question wherever I go. I am glad to say, they are doing well.

The Holliday Family 2011

Freddie Holliday III is 13 years old and he grew over the summer and is now almost as tall as his father. His voice changed and he quite likes his new adult voice. He is now in 7th Grade at Ivymount School in Silver Spring, Maryland. He got an award last spring in his science class for best presentation on his science fair experiment. He collected data about logo recognition rates among preschool children who watch television. It was a cool project.

Isaac Holliday is a five-year-old in kindergarten at Murch Elementary in Washington DC. He is a joyous child and recently had a great deal of fun playing the donkey in the Christmas pageant. He has been struggling with learning to read. We have been very blessed to have my boyfriend-Ben Merrion tutor Isaac as Ben works in the adult literacy department at MLK, Jr. Library and is a wonderful teacher.

Speaking of Ben, we have been dating for over a year and this summer Ben made his first trip to Oklahoma to visit my family. He was such an amazing help in guiding the children through the airport during the trip. I also got to meet Ben’s Mother and sister this fall and we had a grand time.

We also have been blessed to meet the amazing Kait B. Roe. She is patient advocate too. She has recently moved to DC and has agreed to help with night-sitting when I am out of town speaking. We are overjoyed to have her as part of our life.

I am so glad Kait is here to help because I travel a lot to speak and paint about the patient view. I owe a great deal of thanks to everyone who helped out in 2011 while I was gone. So thank you to Ben, Kait, Joan Holliday, Courtney Mazza, Megan Michell, Eleanor Franc, Emily Stewart, Liam Kemp, Pete Wright, Cindy Throop, Shoshannah Kantor, Nora Reno, Miriam Cutelis and Robin McGrew.

This was the year I traveled nationally to speak about our family medical story and the tragedy of Fred’s medical care. I delivered over 20 speeches this year visiting Florida, Oklahoma, Illinois, Missouri, Maryland, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, California, Oregon, Texas and Puerto Rico. Most of the venues that ask me to speak also allowed me to paint onsite. It was amazing to set up in the back of grand ballrooms and paint the words spoken at these august events filtering the images through the patient view. Most venues asked me to deliver a second speech at the conclusion of the conferences explaining the paintings created over the days of the conference.

In June of this year Charles Denham, MD offered me a one year fellowship with TMIT (Texas Medical Institute of Technology). As part of the process of being a fellow, he asked me what TMIT could do to advance patient advocacy. I mentioned that conference attendees wrote to me after my speeches telling me how much the patient story was affecting their lives and profession. They were asking for other speakers like me. While within patient communities people who wished to speak often had no way of becoming connected to facilities that needed patient speakers. So when Chuck asked me his question, I responded that we needed a patient speaker’s bureau. For the last six months Chuck and the great team at TMIT have been doing exactly that.

We now have a site called and over sixty speakers have completed profiles and many providers have logged on to find likely speakers. Thank God that Chuck Denham and the TMIT team met me a little over a year ago. is such a blessing!

Another amazing creation in 2011 was The Walking Gallery. In April, I attended the opening of a new Kaiser Permanente facility in DC called the KP Center for Total Health. It was a lovely place: a medical facility lit like a gallery. I immediately wanted to have a gallery show in the space. But we would not pound a single nail. All the art would be worn on the backs of business suit jackets and lab coats. Ted Eytan, MD with KP thought it was a great idea and the KP team thought the proposal over and by the end of the month we had approval. At the end of April, I and five other artists began to paint. On the night of June 7th 54 people walked with fine art paintings depicting patient stories on their backs. It was an amazing and sacred experience.

2011 The Walking Gallery 2650

At this point there are 107 jackets in the Walking Gallery and the movement grows larger each day you can view the entire gallery at Welcome to The Walking Gallery - Regina Holliday's Medical ... Those that walk in their jackets have attended events and medical conferences throughout the United States and in a great deal of Europe. We now have walkers on five continents spreading the power of the patient story.

So that was this year. We are well, happy and so very blessed. And I hope 2012 is another wonderful year filled with advocacy and loving friends. God bless you as you each walk on your own path and I hope to see you along the way.

Regina, Freddie and Isaac.

1 comment:

    (DECEMBER 22, 1936-JANUARY 15, 2011)

    The article link states that “New England Sinai hospital, which traces its roots back to 1927, opened as a nonprofit health care provider for patients who could not pay. It managed to do so for many decades, but the financial losses of recent years were a sign of changing times. ” I don’t know the history of the hospital other than what I have learned from the Internet after my father David Bynum’s death on January 15, 2011. David Bynum’s sister-In-law and health care advocate for many years Dr. Alice Coombs, the former 2010-2011 President of Massachusetts Medical Society referred him to New England Sinai hospital. David Bynum was a wealthy businessman so he could not have contributed to the financial losses as a patient who could not pay. Read More! UngnwqWE9rHLjZn7p5icEK/ story.html
    In a September 2010 speech at the Mayo Clinic, Dr. Coombs shares her brother-in- law David Bynum’s chilling story by the name of Patient B.
    A Man’s Sock
    “The first indelible image offered to 500 plus attendees was projected over a vast stage by the speaker, Dr. Alice Tolbert Coombs, the president of the Massachusetts Medical Society. It was a photograph of a man’s enormously swollen left toe, oozing pus and colored in angry red and blue hues. Seeking relief, Dr. Coombs explained, the man who owned this toe had gone to see a doctor and several other health care workers. Each had listened to the man and then prescribed different remedies, not a single one of which was appropriate to his actual condition – diabetic gangrene. The simple reason why all these health care professionals missed easy diagnosis: none of them had bothered to remove the man’s sock. Common sense could answer a lot of health care questions, Coombs suggested. That and education, on the patient’s part especially.”
    My father David Bynum was a successful entrepreneur from Brooklyn, New York, and he would have been 75 years old today. According to Dr. Coombs (2011), the former 2010-2011 President of Massachusetts Medical Society Vital Signs article states that “a little more than two months ago, my brother-in-law, a middle-aged black man with diabetes, died. When he presented with foot pain, a physician failed to remove his sock and examine his foot. That set in motion a tragic cascade of misdiagnosis, preventable hospitalizations, amputations, a sacral decubitus ulcer, and eventually a fatal infection.”
    David Bynum was transferred from a Brooklyn, New York Hospital to New England Sinai Hospital, Massachusetts in July 2010. I learned after my father’s death from an article on the Internet that “New England Sinai Hospital in Stoughton, which provides long term care to the seriously ill, stopped admitting new patients today, after public health officials found that staff were not properly caring for patients' wounds and, improperly restraining others, and had mistakenly placed an intravenous line in a patient's foot.” My father David Bynum was admitted to New England Sinai Hospital in July 2010 and was discharged on January 10, 2011, and sent to his Brooklyn, New York home under Hospice care. On January 15, 2011, he died in his Brooklyn, New York home and the cause of death was listed as natural cause. Thanks to Regina Holiday and others who continue to promote the memory of David Bynum and the health care issues in America.
    Eunita Winkey and David Bynum (The Walking Gallery)
    “No More Clip Boards”
    By: Regina Holliday

    Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!