“Epilepsy is my passion,” says Debbie Flader, the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago’s Clinical Coordinator.
Debbie has been with the Foundation since 2002 and anyone who has worked with her knows this is the absolute truth. Debbie was first hired to do outreach in Chicago’s suburbs. She had met the Foundation’s CEO at a support group for parents of children living with epilepsy. Her daughter had begun having uncontrollable seizures in 1992 and Debbie found comfort in meeting others in similar circumstances and having the chance to learn as much as she could about epilepsy. She began working at the Foundation because she wanted to make a difference.
“My daughter has never had control of her seizures,” says Debbie. “We struggle and I want to help others who are in the same situation. I know how they feel. They need help today and I am here for them.”
In 2005, Debbie’s role at the Foundation shifted to managing its clinic. She began coordinating with prominent epilepsy centers to help provide support to patients who were unable to pay for medical services.
“I want to make people aware of all of the options they have,” Debbie says.
She continues to oversee the epilepsy clinic on a part-time basis, since she semi-retired in May. Along with acting as a liaison between Chicago Epilepsy Center physicians and the Foundation, she focuses on finding patients access to affordable medication, transportation, durable medical equipment, and anything else they may need. Debbie is very knowledgeable when navigating insurance, Medicaid, and SNAP benefits. If she is unable to provide the services needed, she knows the optimal resources and referrals that can best help the patients she serves.
“I want to make a positive impact on peoples’ lives,” Debbie says. “It is so gratifying.”
Before the immergence of COVID-19, Debbie was at the epilepsy clinic six times a month to assist patients and let them know about the programs and services the Foundation offers. Currently, she cannot meet with patients directly and is eager to do so again.
“I can’t wait for real face time with our clients,” she says. “That’s what this is all about. I’m here to make a positive impact and hopefully change the trajectory of their lives.”