PHOENIX — Caitlin Secrist sat next to Gov. Doug Ducey Monday as he signed SB 1169. In the bill is an amendment that will make it easier for Arizonans to get medical records from hospitals that go out of business.
The 22-year-old college student did not envision her fight—both with a medical condition and for her medical records—would have her at a bill signing ceremony.
"I never imagined myself doing that," Caitlin said.
Caitlin was diagnosed with pancreatitis. After beating it once, her mom said the issue kept coming back.
"Suffering from it each time, you risk organ failure. There are just a myriad of things that can take your life," Suzette Secrist said.
The family flew Caitlin out to John Hopkins in Baltimore for a life-saving procedure. However, doctors there told the family they could not proceed without Caitlin's original medical records from her original diagnosis.
However, the hospital Florence Hospital at Anthem had closed after its parent company filed for bankruptcy. And gone along with it was any easy access to the medical records.
“Probably the biggest letdown I had ever experienced,” Suzette said. "You feel like a failure. You are supposed to fix things, that’s your job.”
"It broke my heart because maybe I couldn’t get help. Maybe I was never going to get better,” Caitlin said.
The Secrist family would need a court order and help from the governor's office to get her records.
The governor's office then worked with lawmakers, specifically Rep. Nancy Barto and Sen Heather Carter, to add an amendment to SB 1169. The amendment would require health care institutions going out of business to provide medical records to the patients or a third-party vendor.
The third-party vendor would be required to provide those medical records to the patients when requested (following the current procedure).
The Secrist family said they talked privately about how the current procedures should be changed but did not know about the legislation until they were called about the legislation passing.
“We didn’t know this story would be this big, to inspire so much, but it did,” Caitlin said.
“It just makes me feel proud and as a mom you want your children to do well, and for her to inspire this, I could never imagine that," Suzette said
On Monday, the legislation was signed into law, with the family who inspired it sitting right by the governor's side.
The law will not impact hospitals that have already closed, so if you went to Gilbert Hospital or Florence Hospital in Anthem, you have until June 23 to request your medical records, which you can do here.