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Consenters work in the community to enable patients to take part in MyCode

Consenters are the employees deployed to recruit and explain the MyCode Community Health Initiative to people who may be interested in signing up.

Barbara Freeman was the original MyCode consenter.

She joined MyCode in 2006 before it was even called MyCode. She has consented almost 7,000 people and now, at the end of August, she retired at the age of 73.

On August 30th, on her last official day on the job, Mrs. Freeman sat down with MyCode Community News to talk about her experience.

“I really liked the people aspect of the job,” Mrs. Freeman said.

“I met a ton of people that I really enjoyed talking to. I heard a lot of sad stories over the years. Sometimes people would come back just to tell me how they were doing or how they made out,” she said.
Mrs. Freeman, of the Elysburg area, has been serving as an auditor for the program during the past two years, but retires with the distinction of being Geisinger’s very first MyCode consenter.

MyCode changed a lot over the years, Mrs. Freeman said. In the beginning before the policy was changed to return results to research participants, Mrs. Freeman said people were disappointed that they wouldn’t be told of any findings. But they consented anyway, she said. “Some of them were dealing with specific conditions and they thought, ‘Well, maybe my kids or grandkids won’t have to deal with this,’” Mrs. Freeman said.

She has many memories, both good and bad, but she pointed up two in particular: “There was a couple. The wife had cancer. I consented them into MyCode and every time after [when] they had an appointment they would stop and chat with me and I got to know them very well,” Mrs. Freeman said. “Then, there came a time when they stopped coming in, so I knew,” she said quietly.
She particularly also remembers a spry 92-year-old man whom she consented into MyCode. She said he was healthy and fit with a quick mind and he made her laugh a lot.

“It makes you wonder why are some so robust at 92 and others can barely write their own name at 62. I’m hopeful the MyCode project will have an effect on things like dementia. I think that somebody out there has a ‘good’ gene that’s going to help,” Mrs. Freeman said.

Already a grandmother, Mrs. Freeman said about her retirement: “I just think it’s time for me to take it easy now,” she said.


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