After experiencing her own bariatric surgery in an effort to turn her life around, Cathy A. Arsenault realized the importance of patient advocacy, as she wanted to help other people empower themselves and their bodies after making a drastic change. She has garnered certifications in patient navigation from the Dr. Harold P. Freeman Patient Navigation Institute, in patient experience leadership and patient advocacy from the Beryl Institute, and in high performance leadership from Cornell University. Ms. Arsenault is the former co-chairperson of the North Carolina Hospital Association state patient and family advisory council, and currently holds the position of co-chairperson of the patient and family advisory council of the UNC REX Healthcare System.
As a pioneer of bariatric patient and family advocacy, Ms. Arsenault developed a unique role in the hospital and made it her own. She volunteers and helps patients through their health difficulties, rounds on pediatric patients before and after surgery, oversees that all of the advisors are happy, and plans projects and meetings. She also serves on the Bariatric Surgical Service Line, and completes peer rounds with pre- and postoperative bariatric patients on a daily basis. In her present position, Ms. Arsenault volunteers to helps patients through any health difficulties.
As a bariatric life speaker, Ms. Arsenault has spoken at various leadership, department, and group meetings with presentations such as “Empathy for the Bariatric Patient” and “Not All Bariatric Patients Look Alike.” She has also been recruited as a guest speaker at Duke University, Vidant Medical Center, the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, and on Capitol Hill in Washington, telling her own story while speaking as the voice of the patient. Likewise, Ms. Arsenault maintains her professional affiliation with the Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery as an integrated health member, and was a co-founder of the Bariatric Fund at the REX Healthcare Foundation.
For her efforts in her field, Ms. Arsenault was presented with a TBJ Health Care Heroes Award, and the News and Observer “Tarheel of the Week” Award. Over the years, she has been proud of the opportunity she had being invited to go to Blue Cross and Blue Shield North Carolina to tell her story as they were deciding policy for Bariatric patients for the following year. She wrote and calibrated with a production company on the documentary “The Transformational Leader” on YouTube, and, in the same year, she was awarded a Patient and Family Advisor Scholarship from the Beryl Institute thanks to her outstanding work in the field. Working with staff throughout UNC REX Healthcare and a design team, Ms. Arsenault served as the voice of the bariatric patient on the room design for the N.C. Heart & Vascular Hospital, which opened in March 2017 on the main Raleigh campus of UNC REX. Notably, she has been most proud to able to help countless patients over the years through her advocacy work.
Ms. Arsenault wants people to know that there is hope and that obesity is a disease. People have to look at things from a different angle and we are never too old to learn new things.