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You can take it with you

By |2006-06-22T09:00:00-04:00June 22nd, 2006|Entertainment|

LANSING – When Marilyn Gard watched as Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans, separating friends and family, she felt obliged to help out.
“Hurricane Katrina hit and drove home the sad fact that we, as individuals, are totally unprepared for any type of disaster, not just medical,” Gard says. “I was glued to the TV just like the rest of the country. I watched in horror as people lost everything: their homes, their records and even their pets.”
After working with doctors for years, Gard witnessed faulty healthcare and came up with the ICER-2-GO, a portable flash drive, or USB drive, that holds medical history. The concept broadened after Katrina.
“The devastation of the hurricane expanded our focus to include a complete emergency record,” Gard says.
When ICER-2-GO hits the market in June, Gard feels the product, manufactured by her own business, won’t be a hard sell because it’s a necessary one. Gard’s Lansing-based company, Creative Concepts in Communication, began as a consultation of chiropractic offices but in the mid-90s the company rolled out practice management software.
In the next couple of months, Creative Concepts will unveil a touchscreen medical records program that’s integrated with ICER-2-GO so doctors can record notes from a patient’s visit and the patient can take it home.
Gard stresses the importance of having emergency contact information and medical history in case of an accident. “Having your emergency contact information and medical history helps emergency responders make the right decision,” she says.
As a lesbian and disabled business owner Gard would want her partner to make medical decisions for her. She’d want her partner designated as her medical power of attorney on the ICER-2-GO should an accident occur. “She lives with me every day; she knows what I want in life-and-death situations. If I were unable to speak for myself, I would want her to make my medical decisions,” she says
A scanned copy of Gard’s medical power of attorney is attached to the legal documents portion of her ICER-2-GO. “I have also attached a copy of my will and of my life insurance,” she says. “If we had a marriage certificate, I would attach that, too!”
Gard’s never been an out lesbian business owner. Well, until now. “I have never kept it a secret or lied about it, but I have also never broadcasted it,” she says. Gard came out when she was 17. Then “The L Word” and “Queer As Folk” didn’t exist and people lost their jobs if they were out of the closet.
“I lost my first job as a high school teacher,” she says. “Even though the reason given for termination was not related to my sexuality, I knew the real reason I was being fired. And I was in the closet. From that point on, I have operated from the assumption that people did not need to know and if they cared enough to ask, I would tell them.”
Now 25 years later, Gard’s business remains strong and she encourages the gay community to take risks, like she did. “If that means starting a business because that’s your dream, go for it,” she says. “My dream will be fulfilled when I receive this phone call someday: ‘I bought ICER-2-GO for my girlfriend and it saved her life last night.'”
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About the Author:

Chris Azzopardi is the Editorial Director of Pride Source Media Group and Q Syndicate, the national LGBTQ wire service. He has interviewed a multitude of superstars, including Cher, Meryl Streep, Mariah Carey and Beyoncé. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, Vanity Fair, GQ and Billboard. Reach him via Twitter @chrisazzopardi.
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