How Lola Adebiyi Draws on Her Own ALS Journey to Improve Veteran Health Care
Lola Adebiyi’s career at Booz Allen is built around helping veterans get the support they need. In her work with the Dept. of Veteran’s Affairs Office of Community Care, she implements regional contracts that give veterans more choice and easier access to healthcare services in their communities.
Her perspective on this role deepened with a life-changing event. Just months after the birth of her son, Adebiyi received a terminal diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.
The power of adaptive technologies and supportive network
“Since day one, the firm’s Disability Accommodations Team has worked hand-in-hand with my managers to ensure I have the resources I need to be successful,” Adebiyi said.
Technology like speech-to-text software and eye gaze equipment enable Adebiyi to “type with her eyes.” Teleworking gives her the flexibility to balance medical appointments, family time, and client work.
“All of this, combined with continual emotional encouragement from my team and leaders, gives me the support I need to maintain a clear mind, give my best work to the client, and continue contributing to society,” she said.
New perspectives on care and connections
Adebiyi said her frequent interactions with the health system and greater reliance on social services such as accessible transportation have deepened her appreciation of the need for high-quality medical, mental health, and case management services within the VA’s Community Care Network (CCN). This understanding has helped her better communicate veterans’ needs to the CCN’s providers and partners, she said.
Dealing with ALS has also given her a greater understanding about the importance of diversity and inclusion. “Every time I visit a website, attend an event, write a briefing, etc., I think about how people with all different abilities would experience it,” she said. “This diagnosis has exposed me to a different way of connecting with the world and given me a new perspective on how to solve some of our most pressing healthcare challenges.”