Metro Maryland Ostomy Association, Inc. (MMOA), a Rockville based non-profit organization in its 40th year of service to the Washington Metropolitan area has plenty of cause for celebration this morning.
Their two year advocacy effort for increased availability of restroom facilities for the thousands of Marylanders who live an Ostomy or suffer from the effects of Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, and various other forms of IBD became a reality this morning, as HB 1183 had not only been signed into law, but is now effective and enforceable.
In the 2013 Session of the Maryland General Assembly, HB 1183, sponsored by Delegate Norman Conway, D-Wicomico passed both Chambers and was signed into law by Governor Martin O’Malley on April 18. The bill, which failed in 2012 over concerns of employee safety and how the law would be implemented, expands access to “employee only” bathroom facilities in retail establishments for Ostomy patients as well as individuals suffering from Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, and other medical conditions that require immediate access to a restroom, when no public restroom facilities are otherwise available.
Patients will need to present an ID Card issued by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene which must be signed by a licensed medical professional certifying their condition. A link to these cards is available on the Metro Maryland Ostomy Association website at MarylandOstomy.org.
“Many other laws taking effect today, but for our members and the thousands of Marylanders living with an Ostomy, this is the most important,” said Association President Scott Bowling who was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease at age 8 and has lived with an Ileostomy since.
In his remarks, Bowling recalled the emotional testimony of a young man from the Eastern Shore who suffers from severe Crohn’s Disease, and his unbelievable experience at a local Best Buy retail store. “This is the reason we fight so hard for what many believe to be small inconsequential victories, but to this young man, and thousands like him, they are huge, and I wouldn’t trade them for all the money in the world,” Bowling said.
Imagine being in a store and having to use the bathroom quickly and being told No, “When you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go,” said Del. Norman Conway,D-Wicomico.
Bowling concluded his remarks by thanking Delegate Conway for his tenacity in seeing this legislation through as well as House Speaker Mike Busch, D-Annapolis, and Governor Martin O’Malley. “Without these three leaders, we would not be celebrating today, and there are no words to thank them enough for their efforts and leadership.”
Metro Maryland Ostomy Association will hold its next meeting on Sunday, October 13 at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring beginning at 12:00p.m., and will have licensed medical professionals on hand to assist with the new ID Cards. You can contact the organizations office via e-mail at info(at)marylandostomy(dot)org or visit their website at MarylandOstomy.org for additional details.