New Law Provides Peace of Mind for Those in Need
Rob Harris Lenora E. Houseworth
(781) 449-0324 x 13; firstname.lastname@example.org (646) 943-7415; email@example.com
August 2, 2012- Needham, MA- Yesterday, Governor Deval Patrick signed the Restroom Access Bill into law which will require businesses with at least three employees to allow inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) sufferers to use an employee-only restroom if public facilities aren’t available. Massachusetts is the 13th state to pass a version of the “Restroom Access Bill,” providing relief and easing the fears of people who suffer from Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and other bowel diseases — painful chronic conditions that cause inflammation of the gastro-intestinal track. Attacks involve severe abdominal pain and diarrhea, resulting in an urgent need for immediate access to the most conveniently located bathrooms. The law will be effective on October 30, 2012.
“This bill will provide peace of mind to people suffering from IBD, who will be able to shop without fear of a publicly embarrassing situation,” said Rep. Louis Kafka (D-Stoughton). Kafka sponsored the bill in the House and led an eight-year effort to get it enacted. He introduced the legislation at the request of a constituent, Canton attorney Jonathan Rutley, who drafted the measure for his 17-year-old daughter and ulcerative colitis patient, Catherine (Catie).
“This law will make it easier for people with this disease to go out in public,” said Catie, who suffered one of her first flares while out shopping with her mother as a child. “We won’t have to plan our trips around where public bathrooms are located, or worry about how quickly we will be able to find a public bathroom.”
The legislation requires businesses to provide access to an otherwise restricted employee-only restroom to individuals who can demonstrate, with a doctor’s note or an approved identification card stating that they suffer from IBD or ostomy. The law imposes a $100 fine for failure to approve a valid request. Approximately 1.4 million people nationally — 30,000 of them in Massachusetts —suffer from IBD, according to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA), which estimates that approximately 10 percent of IBD sufferers are under the age of 18.
Crucial support for came from Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, a Crohn’s sufferer, who publicly backed the legislation and wrote a letter urging Gov. Deval Patrick to sign it. “As a person with Crohn’s Disease, I was proud to work with CCFA to ensure that retailers accommodate people with urgent medical needs and applaud our state’s legislative leaders for taking action on this common sense measure,” Mayor Menino said.
The CCFA praised the enactment of the Massachusetts legislation as another important step toward providing essential relief to millions of IBD sufferers.“It adds another state to a growing list of states that are recognizing the problems faced by adults and children struggling with Crohn’s, colitis and related diseases,” said President of CCFA Richard Geswell. While the Foundation is encouraging efforts to approve restroom access laws in other states, Geswell said, “That process is slow and it may not be successful everywhere.” For that reason, he said CCFA wants to see the restroom access requirement incorporated as an amendment to the Americans with Disabilities Act, “so it would apply uniformly to IBD sufferers nationwide.”
About the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America
The Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America's mission is to cure Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, and to improve the quality of life of children and adults affected by these diseases. The Foundation ranks third among leading health non-profits in the percentage of expense devoted to research toward a cure, with more than 80 cents of every dollar the Foundation spends going to mission-critical programs. The Foundation consistently meets the standards of organizations that monitor charities, including the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance (Give.org) and the American Institute of Philanthropy (Charitywatch.org). For more information, contact the New England Chapter at 1-800-314-3459 or http://ne.ccfa.org, join CCFA NE on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ccfane, or follow CCFA NE on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ccfa_newengland.
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Crohn's & Colitis Foundation
The Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America's mission is to cure Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, and to improve the quality of life of children and adults affected by these diseases. The Foundation ranks third among leading health non-profits in the percentage of expense devoted to research toward a cure, with more than 80 cents of every dollar the Foundation spends going to mission-critical programs. The Foundation consistently meets the standards of organizations that monitor charities, including the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance (give.org) and the American Institute of Philanthropy (charitywatch.org).