Caring Voice

Close Up: Bruce Packett

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In my high school years, my grandfather—who was very much my intellectual mentor and champion in childhood—passed away as a result of complications related to pulmonary fibrosis. So, it was really personal for me when Caring Voice Coalition invited me to join its Board of Directors in the beginning of 2015. I felt honored and inspired by the incredible opportunity to work so closely with a team of people so dedicated to directly intervening in patients’ and caregivers’ lives.

My previous work with nonprofit health care organizations gave me the experience, and the on-the-ground understanding of how patients with chronic diseases are affected in their daily lives, to really grow and excel in my career in public health.

Currently, I work with the American Academy of HIV Medicine in Washington, D.C., where I direct the organization’s training and policy programs targeted at providers of HIV medical care. This work is very much a part of my perspective and understanding on public health. Unlike in the 1980s and early 1990s, patients with HIV are now expected to live just about as long as those who don’t have HIV, provided that they have access to quality care and treatment. We could even see the end of the epidemic if every patient with the disease were identified and successfully treated.

But there are still holes in the health care system—holes that leave patients without access to care and treatment. These holes are only addressed by specialty lifeline programs and organizations very much like Caring Voice Coalition. That is just part of the reason why I was excited by an opportunity to again engage with an organization that makes a direct difference in the lives of patients with diseases and conditions that are challenging in different ways than HIV.

“…there are still holes in the health care system – holes that leave patients without access to care and treatment…”

From a certain vantage point, it seems almost accidental that I should find myself working in health education and health policy as a career. My educational background was (and continues to be) in the humanities, specifically English literature, music and philosophy. I started my working career writing press releases for a small public relations firm in Washington, D.C.

Lately, I continue to write whenever possible, consult with a developing post-secondary school, and copyedit a quarterly academic journal. I’m also a (very) part-time musician. My wife and I are keen on traveling as much as we can manage; there’s so much to see in our short time here in the world.

For me, there is a very intentional connection between a philosophy/humanities education and developing a sense of justice and equality in the world, across all issues. This connection motivates my interest in health policy work, education and care focused on patients’ lives. I have a firm conviction that no one, especially the most vulnerable patients with chronic and difficult conditions and diseases, should lack access to quality health care and general well-being.

I believe there is power in people coming together to share their stories, working side by side and helping one another navigate through life’s challenges. And I am so grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of an organization that does just that.

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