Taking Action for Psoriatic Disease

Psound Bytes Transcript: Episode 190

Release date: April 11, 2023

“Welcome to this episode of Psound Bytes, a podcast series produced by the National Psoriasis Foundation, the nation’s leading organization for individuals living with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. In each episode someone who lives with psoriatic disease, a loved one or an expert will share insights with you on living well. If you like what you hear today, please subscribe to our podcast and join us every month at Psound Bytes for more insights on understanding, managing, and thriving with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.”

Shiva: My name is Shiva Mozaffarian and joining me today is dermatologist Dr. Meyer Horn, Founder and Medical Director of Dermatology and Aesthetics, and Clinical Instructor of Dermatology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine based in Chicago and Julia Hamel, our Midwest Regional Development Manager, also based in Chicago. We’re here to celebrate the many volunteers who make NPF activities a success and to give an update on how our community fundraising events are shaping up to look this fall. Dr. Horn has a special interest in treating inflammatory diseases of the skin which includes psoriasis. In fact he was one of our original guests back in 2019 addressing why treatments stop working in Episode 10 of Psound Bytes™. Dr. Horn is one of the Foundation’s leading supporters of the NPF Walk in Chicago and we’re so grateful for his participation and support. Julia knows just how dedicated Dr. Horn is in helping NPF meet our mission. So I’m beyond excited to have both of them here with us today.

Welcome back Dr. Horn and welcome Julia! Thank you for being here. Dr. Horn, let’s start with you. What initially brought you to support the mission of the National Psoriasis Foundation?

Dr. Horn: Hey, it's great to be here. Going back to the beginning of my journey in the National Psoriasis Foundation. I'm in my 20th year practicing dermatology post dermatology residency in Chicago and very early in my journey in the community here, we forged a relationship in my practice with the National Psoriasis Foundation rep at the time and started on a regular schedule each year participating in fundraising and getting the office out for the fall Psoriasis Walk in Chicago, which has always been a well-attended event even despite the fall weather. I think luckily because psoriasis is not only a common disease and a common disease in Chicago, but because Chicago happens to be a real mecca city for dermatology given all of the residency programs here, all of the practicing dermatologists, as well as it's the home of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Shiva: Wow, it’s such an incredible journey and I think I can speak on behalf of all the NPF when I say we're so glad you found us! So Dr. Horn, what types of activities do you participate in? You mentioned the walk, but are there other ways you support the NPF?

Dr. Horn: NPF in my experience, over the last 15 to 20 years, has continued to evolve and offer all kinds of new programs for both patients and continuing medical education for doctors like me as well as nurse practitioners, physicians assistants, and even medical assistants who work in the dermatology field and treat psoriasis patients. So for example, once or twice a year, there are continuing medical education days sponsored by the NPF, where amazing speakers in the field of psoriasis and immunology and psoriatic arthritis will host programs that are free for providers like me to learn more about cutting edge treatments, as well as integrative ideas for collaborating with other people in the healthcare realm to benefit and improve outcomes in our psoriatic patients. There are patient facing programs, educational tools, as well as networking tools that are also super super helpful for us as providers to refer patients to who might have additional questions or need more support or want to network. But for me particularly, my big drive each year has been the fall psoriasis walk and something we start gearing up for as an office, even 6 to 8 months prior to that event.

Shiva: You know, I’m so glad that you brought that up because there’s so many ways to engage with NPF. And as I mentioned in the introduction, you’d previously done a podcast with us when we started this show back in 2019. So thank you for being a part of all of it.

Dr. Horn: Sure.

Shiva: Julia, Dr. Horn’s Walk Team is one of NPF’s top walk teams in the country. Can you tell us what makes Dr. Horn’s team so unique?

Julia: Of course. Dr. Horn’s team is actually the top fundraising team in the country. He's raised over $30,000 through the years that he has participated, which is amazing. I think what makes his team unique is how he engages his network. Peer-to-peer fundraising is all about reaching out to your personal and professional networks and casting a broad net to obtain support for the campaign that you’re fundraising for, and Dr. Horn makes a point to talk about the National Psoriasis Foundation with those in his community. So when our Chicago event season arrives, like he just said, he works on this 6 to 8 months out. He's able to effectively turn that networking and engagement into a successful fundraising campaign and his efforts over the years have really shown that.

Shiva: Wow Dr. Horn that’s incredible! It’s so awesome to hear all you guys are doing and we’re so thankful for your support. And you know I have to bring this up, but I have heard that there's some rivalry between your team and Dr. Michael Lewitt’s team for the top team. What do you do to help recruit team members to your team?

Dr. Horn: Yeah. Well, Dr. Lewitt is the new kid in town and I gotta stay at least neck and neck with him. All joking aside, he's another amazing resource in our psoriasis community who is a great educator, thought leader and provider with whom often we collaborate on certain patients or difficult cases. And he's again just a wonderful person to have in our community who's newer here than me because he's also younger. I attribute a lot of my success to my long-standing visibility in the community here. And though I'm not from Chicago and I moved here from Tennessee in 1998 to finish all of my medical training at both University of Chicago and then Northwestern. And I also spent a year at Northwestern doing a clinical trials research fellowship primarily focused on new treatments for psoriasis, and this was right at the turn of the century because it was 1999, two thousand and it was kind of the dawn of a lot of the biologics that we take for granted right now for psoriasis which have been life changing. I kind of cut my teeth in that setting working with and watching the development of a lot of these cutting-edge drugs. And fast forward now 23, 24 years, I am still practicing basically within the same 4 to 5 square miles where I have been seeing patients in dermatology for the past 25 years. So the point is that I have a lot of continuity. I've gotten to know a lot of people. Patients who have been seeing me since the time I was a research fellow and not even boarded in dermatology formally yet. So we joke about that. I have several patients who knew me when I was not even a board certified dermatologist and they still come to see me every 6 to 12 months. But the point is I'm really good at keeping in touch with people, forming networks, outreach to my patients with of course, ample permission, those patients who have been interested, I communicate with them via e-mail historically. Now we have patient portals that we use, and it's almost become a given that they know every year when it comes around in the summer and early fall they're going to hear from me about how they think they might contribute or participate in the walk event in some way, shape or form for the year and potentially also get matching from their employers or other types of grants or contributions. So people know that I'm coming. They know that I'm gonna be knocking every end of summer, every early fall. And again, the continuity really works in my favor because I've been practicing in such a stable environment for so many years.

Shiva: Wow, I definitely appreciate you sharing the secrets of your trade with us. And I forgot to ask you, what’s the name of your team?

Dr. Horn: Well, we never really have the same name of our team per se. Nothing cute or sassy, we're “Dermatology and Aesthetics”. We were historically “Dermatology and Aesthetics of Wicker Park”. And we have grown and expanded and partnered with different skin care organizations. We actually currently a group called Vital Skin Dermatology and we're a smaller part of a bigger network in the Midwest. But we still call ourselves “Dermatology and Aesthetics”. Nothing cuter than that. I could think of a lot of cool or funny or sassy indie names, but we keep it simple.

Shiva: I’d love to hear it. So Julia, when will the event occur in Chicago this year and where can someone obtain more information about it? 

Julia: So this year the event will be held on September 23rd. It'll be at the Lincoln Park Zoo, which will be a new venue for us this year. Our new peer-to-peer campaign is called ”Take Action for Psoriatic Disease” and will run between Psoriatic Arthritis Awareness Month and Psoriasis Awareness Month. Anyone who would like more information can feel free to reach out to me at J, as in Julia Hamel, jhamel@psoriasis.org.  I always love to connect with volunteers and supporters of the NPF.

Shiva: So Julia, what other types of activities are occurring in the Chicago area where someone can help support NPF? Isn't there a Fleur de Cure coming up that honors dermatologist Dr. Michael Lewitt and rheumatologist Dr. Diana Sandler?

Julia: There sure is. The Fleur de Cure is a brand new event happening this year on May 11th in Chicago. The Chicago Land community has really rallied around the elevated garden party concept so much so that we have completely sold out this event six weeks in advance, which is very exciting. We'll be honoring both Dr. Lewitt and Dr. Sandler and we're really excited to give them this recognition at our inaugural Chicago special events.

Shiva: Well it certainly sounds like an amazing event and a great way to honor Dr. Lewitt and Dr. Sandler! So this next question I have is for both of you. We hear there’s some changes coming for NPF’s community events. Can you provide a preview of what's to come and how instrumental were volunteers in proposing these changes? Julia, would you like to go first?

Julia: I'd love to. So as I mentioned before, the new peer-to-peer campaign will be called “Take Action for Psoriatic Disease”. It'll still be the same amazing experience of coming together and connecting with your local NPF community. But Take Action will really amplify our fundraising for NPF's mission critical programs and allow us to come together and celebrate our accomplishments with the psoriatic disease community. Teams can choose how they want to take action. You could go for a walk. You could do a wine tasting. You can do really whatever you want and turn that into a fundraiser. What I love most about this concept is that it was inspired by ideas from volunteer leaders across the country who met together in February to build on the success of the Team NPF Walk program. We've been doing a walk program for over 10 years now, so it was really great to brainstorm it with our supporters how we can inspire new patients, medical professionals and supporters to engage with this new movement. We're really excited about it.

Dr. Horn: And to chime in here, as someone who's been a big part of the walk community and event in Chicago for at least the last 14 to 15 years, we're excited to evolve and change and do kind of a different style of event and allow different forms of participation for people who may have been doing the same event for 10 to 15 years and potentially to attract a lot of new people, new families, new employees, healthcare providers and even more so maybe more people from our rheumatology community as well.

Shiva: This all so exciting. I can’t wait to see all the new changes. Dr. Horn, you previously mentioned why you're involved with the NPF, why should others be engaged with NPF and what can they do?

Dr. Horn: Well I really do think that any provider dermatologist or dermatology APP, and an APP is someone like a Nurse Practitioner or Physician’s Assistant who provides care for dermatology patients, I think should be involved because of the resources available to patients, the network, educational events for ourselves, and just the ability to stay up to date with other providers and thought leaders in the field who are really using cutting edge treatments and ideas in terms of their approach to our psoriatic disease patients. I can think of many people who are my age or older and had been involved for the last 15 years or more, from whom I learned a great deal about how they approach our patients, how they use new cutting-edge agents in combination, or in certain variants of disease etc. And always look forward to networking and learning from other people and have met a lot of people through the NPF in this way. I think I personally have become more visible in the country, even as a member of the NPF and as potentially a destination for patients who may not have found the type of care or the detailed finessed care that maybe they were looking for, for their psoriatic disease, which I understand is so very important because even though there are great treatments for psoriasis now that run the gamut from amazing topical treatments to oral treatments to biologic injectable treatments and more to come. Not every treatment is the right treatment for the particular patient, and getting the message across that there is a finesse and a way to approach each one of these patients based on their previous history, their presentation of their psoriasis, their other health care conditions, where they live, what they do, what their habits are, etc. t's just something that we enjoy talking about and really customizing care for each individual patient and or family and would love to just get the message across to everyone in our dermatology field. So that's a big reason for me. 

Shiva: And that's a perfect reason. Thank you Dr. Horn. This of course is beyond joining your team, right? Dr. Horn: Right. Beyond having them join my team and seeing them in a supportive, fun environment outside of my office as normal people who are not just my patients who suffer from skin disease.  So it's  really a very bonding experience. 

Shiva: Definitely. And Julia, I'm sure there are many amazing volunteers to celebrate who also support NPF. Do you have a message you'd like to give to the many volunteers who help you? 

Julia: Our volunteers are so critical. In order for us to achieve our goals, I have volunteer committees for all of my events in the Midwest region and through their hard work over the past year, they've been responsible for generating a very large portion of the revenue that goes towards supporting our mission. So sending a huge thank you to all of the volunteers in the Midwest and throughout the country, we couldn't do it without you. 

Shiva: And as you know April is Volunteer Appreciation Month. So we really do appreciate all of our volunteers who help us reach our mission. And thank you to both of you, Julia and Dr. Horn for everything you do and for being here with us today. Do you have any final comments you'd like to share with our listeners. Dr. Horn?

Dr. Horn: Yeah. Thank you for having me. I I wish I had a video capability to show you the collection of NPF walk T-shirts I have that the office has made for us and staff over the past 12 to 15 years.  I have representative T-shirts from every year, which is something that we have done to just raise the spirit in our office and get people excited about coming out to the event. Though historically I was laughing with Julia. It was kind of early on Sunday morning. So some of our younger footloose and fancy-free providers would show up a little bit late on Sunday morning, but everybody would come wear their T-shirt and then we would proudly let them wear their T-shirts on Fridays for patient care too in the office. So it became kind of a tradition that we had in the office that on Fridays, throughout the year, everybody could wear their National Psoriasis Foundation T-shirt that we made kind of custom with our office logo on it. So that was a real popular idea that has perpetuated over time and something that again almost like a pep rally. It's really raised spirits in our office and the patient's love it. 

Shiva: Bringing a whole other vibe to casual Fridays. I love to hear it! And Julia what about you?

Julia: Yes, thank you for taking the time to chat with us. I hope the community will join me and Dr. Horn for our new Take Action celebration in September.

Shiva: Thank you Julia and Dr. Horn for all you do to help people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. We’re so grateful for your support and to all volunteers who support the mission of the National Psoriasis Foundation. During April 16-22 the National Psoriasis Foundation is honoring our outstanding volunteers such as Dr. Horn, Dr. Michael Lewitt and Dr. Diana Sandler through National Volunteer Appreciation Week. We honor and thank the many volunteers who give their time and talents to mentor, raise awareness and funds, advocate for policy change, sit on advisory committees, or are Board Members serving to drive accomplishment of our mission. We’re grateful to all who support NPF’s mission. If you would like to join us visit psoriasis.org/volunteer. And finally thank you to our sponsors who provided support on behalf of this Psound Bytes™ episode through unrestricted educational grants Bristol Myers Squibb, Janssen and UCB.

We hope you enjoyed this episode of Psound Bytes for people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. If you or someone you love has ever struggled with psoriatic disease, our hope is that through this series you’ll gain information to help you lead a healthier life and inspire you to look to the future. Please join us for another inspiring podcast. You can find this or all future episodes of Psound Bytes on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeart Radio, Google Play, Gaana, and the National Psoriasis Foundation web page. To learn more about this topic or others please visit psoriasis.org or contact us with your questions or comments by email at podcast@psoriasis.org.  

This transcript has been created by a computer and edited by an NPF Volunteer.

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