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Healthcare Advocates can be Lifesavers

PHILADELPHIA, March 24 /PRNewswire/ -- Early this year Oprah Winfrey began her "Live Your Best Life" series with 10 tips to live healthier. Number six was to find a health advocate.

What's a health advocate? Christina French Miller of Phoenixville and David Kozlow of Philadelphia know, and both said that without one, they might not be alive today. Philadelphia Police Officer Anthony Livingston agrees, saying a health advocate has given him new hope after he had just about given up.

Winfrey described a health advocate as someone who really understands the often-complicated healthcare process.

"I'd call my health advocate a guardian angel," says Livingston while explaining that after almost three years of various and sometimes contradictory diagnoses, medications and confused looks from doctors, a colleague with Law Enforcement Health Benefits recommended Guardian Nurses Healthcare Advocates ( and its founder Betty Long.

A registered nurse, Long established Guardian Nurses in 2003 after helping family members navigate the health care system. "I became the 'go to' person for relatives who were at their wits end trying to figure out how to manage the system while enduring life-threatening diseases."

Livingston says he was experiencing uncomfortable itching on his foot that ultimately affected every move he made from walking his beat to trying to sleep. "Doctors and specialists tried all kinds of things but none of it helped," he says. "My insurance coverage was dropping and I had to take a leave from work."

A few months ago, a Guardian Nurse joined Livingston on a doctor visit. She recommended a blood test and from that "we discovered my blood sugar and cholesterol levels were through the roof," Livingston explains. Now that he has an actual diagnosis of diabetes, he feels he is taking the right steps. "I'm relieved now that I have somebody on my side," he adds.

Employers or unions cover most of the services provided by Guardian Nurses Healthcare Advocates as part of their benefits program while some clients pay privately.

Christina French Miller was told she had endometrial cancer that was spreading rapidly. Long lined up a second opinion and Miller, 82, was actually affected by endometriosis, a common problem that's easily treatable. "Betty moves through the healthcare morass like a motor boat, she's enormously helpful," Miller says.

David Kozlow was concerned about pain in his throat even after his doctor said it wasn't cancer. "We called Guardian Nurses who lined up a doctor the next day for a second opinion and my husband was diagnosed with stage four throat cancer," recalls Kozlow's wife Maria Maldonado. Kozlow is now responding well to treatment.

Guardian Nurses frequently saves money as well as lives. Long recounts a California family that was shocked to discover their insurance only covered one-third of a $300,000 emergency hospitalization bill. After months of wrangling, Long had the Kings' entire bill -- about $200,000 -- written off by the hospital and the insurance company.

SOURCE Guardian Nurses
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