Midwest Facilitators Network
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American Liver Foundation Contacts:  Jackie Dominguez, Krista Flanagan
(312)-377-9030  -  alf-ill@interaccess.com



1 in 10 Americans are afflicted with some form of 100 liver-related diseases. The objective of the Illinois Chapter of the American Liver Foundation (ALF) is to provide a future where the threat of liver disease is greatly diminished; where effective treatments exist; where no one dies waiting for a liver transplant. In addition to brochures, fact sheets and newsletters, the Illinois Chapter offers monthly Network Meetings as a venue to educate patients and their families about liver diseases including research and clinical studies progress. The Network Meetings also incorporate an open discussion segment and a question/answer session so the participants can learn from the medical professionals as well as each other. It is now time for us to extend this commitment and provide a forum for those suffering from liver diseases, and their friends and families, to meet and discuss the emotional aspects associated with the diseases, treatments, side effects and research progress.


Support groups empower patients and their families. Participants gain increased knowledge from medical professionals and other patients. They develop and improve coping skills. They gain increased confidence and acceptance of their liver disease through the knowledge that they share a common struggle. Finally, patients and their families gain support. Because of the stigma attached to some liver diseases, patients may feel isolated and reluctant to disclose their health status to those around them. Support groups provide a "safe" and supportive environment for patients and families to deal with the impact of their liver disease.


Each newly established community support group would meet on a monthly basis.

Meeting days: At the discretion of the facilitator and coordinator, usually on a weekday evening. Date and time can be periodically evaluated to ensure it remains viable.

Meeting times: Generally for 1 ½ hrs, in the timeframe of 6:00pm to 9:00pm.

Location: Centrally and conveniently located, handicapped-accessible room, to best serve the largest number of individuals in a community and surrounding areas. It should be near public transportation and/or offer sufficient parking. The neighborhood should be considered safe after dark. Preferably a location that provides free access to not-for-profit organizations.

Suggested locations: School Common Rooms, Medical Center Meeting Rooms, Public Libraries, Town Halls, YMCA's, etc.

Amenities: Audio/visual equipment, (if needed).


It is at the discretion of the group whether or not the group is for patients only, patients and family members only, or patients, families and friends.

The number of people attending the support group meetings are determined by several factors, including:

Participants should RSVP (if applicable), respect the rights of every participant, sign confidential questionnaire with confidentiality statement, complete evaluation form after every meeting.


(Coordinator and Facilitator can be the same person)


ALF does not engage in the practice of medicine. Under no circumstances does ALF recommend a particular treatment(s) for specific individuals and in all cases recommends that patients consult their physicians before pursuing any course of treatment. Support groups should not endorse, or imply endorsement, of any product or treatment. Support groups must avoid any other actions that could be perceived as a conflict of interest in relation to interactions with pharmaceutical, nutrition or any other corporations, persons or other entities promoting a specific course of treatment. A support group is a forum for sharing information - which may include personal anecdotes or experiences as it relates to a course of treatment - but any information share should not considered medical advice. ALF support groups are required to be facilitated. In order to function properly, order and structure within a support group is imperative. It is the facilitator's job to maintain this order and structure while providing guidance when necessary. It is important that an atmosphere for learning is created and maintained within the group.
ALF support groups are required to be under the direct or indirect guidance of a physician, nurse, social worker or other trained health professional. This allows for medical issues to be handled with a minimum of misinformation. In addition, the health professional can recognize the limitations and other effects that the liver disease may have on a patient both physically and emotionally.

Guidance does not mean that a health professional must always be present during the support group meetings. It does mean that this person should be available-either during meeting times or normal business hours-to answer medical questions or address issues that are beyond the scope of the support group.

Publicity: Costs/Funding:

Support group start-up costs are generally minimal (i.e. printing, postage, refreshments and possible professional facilitators and advertising). The Chapter will provide nominal start-up funds to help defray these costs.

After Six Months:

Naturally, the Chapter is available to help you every step of the way and regular contact will be maintained with the Coordinator and Facilitator to ensure a smooth meeting. We are here to offer advice, answer questions, make recommendations or serve as a sounding board for ideas. Each quarter we will host a Coordinator/Facilitator meeting for open discussion on group dynamics across the board. Whether you're an expert or novice, this optional session will give you an opportunity to learn from others and share your knowledge.

Each month the evaluation forms will be reviewed and tallied. After six months a history will have been established and it will be time to discuss maintaining the good elements and revisiting any areas that may need improvement.

American Liver Foundation Contacts:  Jackie Dominguez, Krista Flanagan
(312)-377-9030  -  alf-ill@interaccess.com

(Volunteering Index Page    /  Opportunity Index Page  /  MFN Home Page)