Although I have studied and appreciated public policy and marketing during high school and in my first year of college, interning at Hosparus Health was my first time exploring these topics and the challenges they pose in practice. This internship provided me with an understanding of how non-profits operate and advocate on behalf of their communities. Additionally, I had the opportunity to research and select an advocacy software platform for use on an ongoing basis to enhance communication, action, and transparency between legislators, community members, and Hosparus Health.

Over the course of the summer, I attended several meetings, brain-storming sessions, and talks that highlighted the priorities and long term goals of nonprofits across the sector and specifically for Hosparus Health.

In June, I accompanied Gwen Cooper to a meeting with Melanie Douglas from Senator Donnelly’s staff to discuss the logistics and implications of the Patient Choice and Quality Care Act and the 2018 CMS Wage Index. In preparation for this meeting and general discussion, I read and dissected both pieces of legislation as well as Hosparus’ comments regarding the Wage Index. Engaging with these texts greatly enhanced my familiarity with policy and its application in practice. I also had the opportunity to attend a public policy summit led by the Kentucky Nonprofit Network. The summit was an incredibly insightful experience and an introduction to the intricacies of nonprofits. I dialoged with a diverse group of individuals about the Tax reform bill and 2018 budget, the Johnson amendment, charitable giving, misconceptions associated with nonprofits, health care reform, and a myriad of other relevant topics. The biggest take away from the summit was that composing a united front representing all nonprofits is the most effective way to address and persuade legislators. The third notable event was a talk given by Elaine Chao regarding transportation policy. Though the subject differed from health policy, I enjoyed listening to a woman so knowledgeable and respected in her field.

My main project for the summer was researching and implementing an advocacy software program that could be embedded into the Hosparus Health website. The software needed to manage bill tracking, volunteer organization, easy legislator contact, seamless site integration, action alert capability, etc. The software also needed to allow for effective grassroots and grass tops advocacy as well as the ability to cater to legislators in both Kentucky and Indiana. After contacting several companies, reviewing their software programs through live demos, and pinpointing the most important features for Hosparus Health, we ultimately chose a company called SoftEdge. Hosparus Health is currently in the process of reviewing, purchasing, and customizing the software for our website. The pieces of legislation I read and meetings I attended during my internship made it easy to identify Hosparus’ priorities and the best bills and articles to include on the advocacy page when the implementation is completed. The new software will allow community members to educate themselves and act upon relevant bills that will affect the quality of hospice and palliative care that their family members will receive. Hosparus Health will be able to track bills and actions, identify important relationships between constituents and legislators, and promote critical segments of information. This tool will decidedly increase the impact that Hosparus Health will have when influencing public policy.

My internship ultimately provided me with a comprehensive view of nonprofit policy goals and how to achieve them through marketing and advocacy. I also became aware of the proximity between policy figures making decisions in Washington and their very direct impact on individuals in my community. More specifically, I got a glimpse of the work that Hosparus does to provide comfort and care to thousands of patients and how important it is to advocate for the continued funding and support of services that greatly benefit those who rely on hospice and palliative care.