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Regina Holliday paints for advocacy : Campus speech

Advocating on the importance of having easy access to medical records and positive doctor-patient relationships, Regina Holliday recounted her difficult hospital experience when her husband Fred suffered from kidney cancer.

Holliday detailed that the doctors didn’t inform her of updates on her husband’s condition, so it came as a shock when she was informed that Fred’s cancer had spread and was now at stage four.

She was also horrified to learn her husband’s hip had been fractured while in the process of being moved and no one had told her about it. Holliday was then motivated to push for hospital reform.

She began by using artwork as a way to spread a message.

“Change is done through story,” she said. “We need to work with everybody if we’re going to get change.”

She began with a painting on a gas station wall near her home in Maryland, just six days after her husband passed away.

“I am grieving, but I will not wait,” Holliday said on her drive to start informing people on issues with health information technology.

The painting was titled “73 cents.” This signified what it would cost, per page, to have access to her husband’s medical records so he could be transferred to another hospital. Collecting these pages would add up to hundreds of dollars.

There are many people portrayed in Holliday’s mural — her husband’s doctor, her husband and her sons.

“Not one of them is making eye contact with one another,” Holliday said. “It symbolizes the disconnect between patients and doctors. It has to change.”

She started to paint peoples’ stories on the backs of their jackets. This turned into a movement called “The Walking Gallery.” Holliday now speaks at medical conferences and colleges to promote change and to share the inspiring stories of what others have overcome.

At a senate press conference, Holliday did not hesitate to say, “What do you do to make sure caregivers have access to medical records?” Her question was not directly answered, so she continued to speak out to ensure that patients had a voice in the matter.

She incorporated an open access hospital data of unsatisfactory patient ratings into a painting she worked on directly in front of the reviewed hospital. People came up and questioned her work, and she was able to talk to them about what she was addressing in her art.

Holliday mentioned an article written about her that read, “Regina Holliday Is Not Special.” She explained that she agreed with the article. “You can make a change in this world,” she said to the audience.

Holliday creates paintings almost everywhere she visits. She created a piece at the College called “Hope.” She began the piece by painting dirty snow being whisked away and a girl in a cap and gown about to take on the world.

“In the moment, it’s energy and life and light,” Holliday said when reflecting on her thought process while painting the image for the College.

“Everyone can talk reform, but few can actually catalyze change,” said Jim Etheridge, a junior biology and communication studies double major. “Regina is one of those few — an inspiring leader who’s brilliance, tenacity and dedication are something to truly admire.”


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