How do you vote if you find yourself unexpectedly hospitalized on Election Day, unable to get to the polls?
That’s what dozens of patients at Einstein Healthcare Network wanted to know on Tuesday, Nov. 8—and patient advocates tried, as an added courtesy, to help them figure it out. More patients asked about it this year than ever before, reflecting perhaps the intense interest in this presidential campaign.
The process to obtain an emergency absentee ballot and vote is rigorous, said Evelyn Curry, patient advocate at Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia. While Einstein has no formal, official program to help patients vote—a responsibility that obviously is far afield from medical treatment—patient advocates at the network’s three inpatient hospitals did what they could to help patients who asked.
Curry, along with patient advocates at Einstein Medical Center Montgomery and Einstein Medical Center Elkins Park—explained the process and provided patients with the paperwork they needed: an application for an emergency absentee ballot and a document designating someone to be their official representative to pick it up. The paperwork was notarized at the hospital.
The designated person then had to go to the county board of elections—either in Philadelphia or Montgomery County, depending on the hospital—pick up the ballot, bring it back to the patient at the hospital to vote, sign and seal, then return it to the county by 8 p.m., when the polls closed.
Some patients were unable to find an agent to help them. Others were discouraged by the process. But a number of patients actually were able to vote despite being marooned in a hospital.
On a normal day, patient advocates help patients and their families with questions or concerns, arrange for them to meet with physicians or staff, and provide information about services and resources. Helping them to vote is just a courtesy they’re happy to provide.
It’s another way in which Einstein fulfills its mission to provide More Than Medicine.