The goal of Global Asbestos Awareness Week (GAAW) is to increase awareness of asbestos and the preventable diseases caused by the deadly substance. Most people have never heard of these diseases until diagnosis. Many times they’ve undergone countless tests and procedures before doctors arrive at a correct diagnosis for an asbestos-related disease such as mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, adenocarcinoma or asbestosis.
For the past 15 years, Simmons Hanly Conroy has been a proud supporter of Linda Reinstein, the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) and GAAW. In addition to providing legal help for asbestos victims through our legal resources, the firm also has an Asbestos Medical Department, led by a registered nurse, Amy Fair.
In honor of GAAW, we’d like to spotlight Amy and her department. Amy’s team provides crucial support for our clients’ cases by preparing medical documents for trial, and Amy herself provides patients with a wealth of information about navigating the medical side of fighting an asbestos-related disease.
Every year thousands of Americans die from preventable diseases caused by asbestos exposure, including mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis. The symptoms of these diseases mimic the common cold, making them hard to diagnose. In addition, it can take 10-50 years for symptoms to even begin after initial exposure.
Since the 1930s, scientists knew about the dangers of asbestos exposure and published countless studies through the 1960s that sounded the alarm about the negative health consequences, especially for workers who suffered prolonged exposures. Despite warnings from medical professionals, corporations purposely hid the dangers of asbestos and continued to expose a generation of workers.
Nurse Amy Fair Helps Asbestos Victims
When patients first come to us, their battle with mesothelioma, lung cancer or another asbestos-related disease is just beginning. Even before they officially begin the legal process, many meet via phone with the firm’s nurse – Amy Fair, director of Medical Relations.
Amy has been with the firm for nearly 20 years. She fills a unique role, guiding clients through the often scary and confusing first steps following an asbestos-related cancer diagnosis. Amy said:
“When I began work at Simmons, I quickly realized how very rare and complex mesothelioma is, not only for the patient, but for their entire family. Answering patient questions, explaining options, and sometimes just listening to a patient and their loved one is the number one reason why I’m here.”
Prior to her work at the firm, Amy spent 10 years focused on home-health care. Now assisted by 14 medical assistants and a Licensed Practical Nurse, Amy and her team provide Simmons Hanly Conroy’s clients the following personalized services:
- Answers to medical questions about their diagnosis and treatment
- Assistance with referral sources to mesothelioma specialists
- Guidance with nutrition and side effects from chemotherapy
- Help with securing lodging and travel arrangements when seeing specialists
- Preparation of all asbestos-related medical documents and interpretation of records and charts to help strengthen clients’ cases
- Communicate medical updates to attorneys to keep them abreast of developments
- Provide resources for support groups for clients and their families
Amy works closely with patients and families impacted by asbestos-related diseases, sometimes before they even speak with one of the firm’s attorneys. She is also available to help them with the above items even long after their case concludes.
“It’s my privilege to help empower those diagnosed to move forward when they are ready to seek appropriate treatment and help them every step of the way,” Amy said.
For Those Affected by Asbestos-Related Diseases, Amy Goes Above and Beyond
In a recent case, Amy provided a Wisconsin patient with a list of questions she could ask her oncologist before starting mesothelioma treatment. The list provided a starting point for the patient to open a dialogue with her doctor about what exactly were her surgical or chemotherapy options.
In another instance, a California patient was suffering side-effects from his chemotherapy that caused him to lose his appetite. Amy worked with him and his family to put together a nutrition plan that addressed how to stimulate his appetite so he could continue his treatment regimen.
Sometimes patients of asbestos-related diseases can have trouble finding a doctor who understands how to treat mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases. When this happens, they often ask Amy and her team for recommendations on how to find the right mesothelioma doctor for them.
Amy plays a valuable but often overlooked role in long fight against the devastation left behind by asbestos exposure. In addition to helping asbestos-related disease clients secure compensation with crucial medical documentation, Amy’s skillset better prepares patients and their families for the fight against a terrifying disease. It is her ability to connect with individual patients and families that makes her an essential asset to the firm and the mesothelioma community at-large.
The individualized care Amy and her team provide to those searching for answers regarding an asbestos-related disease is deserving of recognition this Global Asbestos Awareness Week. The medical challenges caused by asbestos are devastating and no one should have to traverse them alone.
Because of Amy and her team, they don’t have to.
Editor’s Note: This is Day 2 in Simmons Hanly Conroy’s “7 Reasons for 7 Days” blog series, in which we honor the lives of men and women who have fought bravely against the scourge of asbestos. This series is part of an overarching effort to recognize and build awareness about the dangers of asbestos during Global Asbestos Awareness Week. Follow along with the conversation online with the hashtag #2019GAAW.