Brainz Magazine Exclusive Interview
Claudia Cometa graduated with her Doctor of Pharmacy degree in 2003 and completed an additional year of specialized residency training in clinical pharmacy. Her career in healthcare spanned several states and a wide variety of clinical settings. In more recent years, she became certified as a pharmacogenomics practitioner, Radical Remission Health Coach and Workshop Instructor, and meditation instructor. Dr. Cometa is presently a leader in healthcare consulting, advocacy, and elevating the patient experience. Her father's death left her with a compelling need to fill an identified gap in the medical system. She has since dedicated her life to helping individuals find answers, clarity, and peace in a chaotic system. She is the Founder and CEO of Peace Advocacy Group, a nationwide advocacy company dedicated to elevating the patient experience.
What inspired you to enter the healthcare advocacy field, and how has your journey shaped the unique approach you take with clients?
In April of 2016, my father was diagnosed unexpectedly with lymphoma. For the first time of any significance in my life, I found myself advocating from the patient side of the healthcare equation. What I experienced was both shocking and disappointing. In all the years I worked as a clinical pharmacist, I had no way of understanding the reality of the patient experience until I was personally faced with it. For the next year, I witnessed my dad being shuffled through a medical system that lacks compassion, is ill-equipped to care for the whole patient, and is subject to a surprising number of errors, many of which could have harmed him had I not caught them early. As I attentively watched every detail of his care, I looked around at the other patients and wondered who was advocating for them—the answer - no one. As a result, I followed my heart's lead and decided to do for others what I did for him. The year-long journey I took with my dad before his passing gave me a depth of empathy, compassion, and understanding that would ultimately shape my approach to clients. I treat them all as if they are my family and I advocate for them with the same passion and purpose I did with my dad.
Can you provide a brief overview of the core values and principles that guide your work?
Our core values are peace, commitment, and integrity. Peace is in the company name for a significant reason. Our clients come to us in a state of fear, uncertainty, and unrest. They are facing illness, disease, and diagnostic labels that suggest their future is in question. We know from personal and professional experience that it can be difficult to find peace in these situations. Providing our clients with peace is core to who we are and what we do. Secondly, we are committed to this work, to our clients' goals, and to the journey we embark on with them. This commitment is unwavering and unconditional. Finally, we hold ourselves to a high level of integrity, which we are unwilling to compromise. Our decision-making is guided by each of these values and ultimately becomes our north star.
In your experience, what are the common challenges individuals face within the traditional healthcare system, and how does your service address these challenges?
The medical system presents patients with many challenges. One of the most common is communication. The language and verbiage used in the healthcare system are complex and difficult to understand for the untrained public. In addition, with the system being overburdened and largely understaffed, time spent with an individual physician is limited. This leads to patients feeling dismissed and confused, which often results in distrust. Third-party involvement, such as insurance companies, has created an additional layer of complication. Their financial interests often take priority over patient access to services, procedures, and treatments. Additionally, the training of medical students is lacking in areas that we know to be impactful for a patient's wellness, including lifestyle medicine and holistic modalities. For these reasons and more, patients are largely left to navigate a fragmented and broken system that simply does not and cannot have all the answers.
The phrase "Peace begins here" is powerful. Could you share the significance behind this statement and how it reflects the mission of your business?
When I think about how I want my clients to feel, the word peace is front and center. From the time they hear about my services and visit my website for the first time, my goal is for them to feel a level of peace they likely haven't felt in a while. I believe there is peace in walking this journey hand-in-hand with someone who is committed to you every step of the way.
As someone seeking healthcare guidance, why should I choose your company? What sets you apart from other healthcare professionals or advocacy services?
A gentleman recently described our services as a needle in a haystack. And while I haven't specifically used those words before, I believe there is truth in them. We live in a time in history that allows quick and easy access to any information we seek. While this can be positive, it also creates a challenge to direct our attention to information that is accurate, unbiased, and helpful to our journey. Finding a trained, unbiased, and independent healthcare professional who can act as a guide and mentor is truly like finding a needle in a haystack. Our healthcare consultants have many decades of specialized experience combined with a deep level of empathy and compassion for elevating the patient experience. Since I started Peace Advocacy Group in 2017, we have 100% 5-star reviews. Our clients become our extended family and we treat them with the same attentiveness, respect, and level of care we would for our own families. In addition, I am a certified meditation teacher, Radical Remission Health Coach, and pharmacogenomics practitioner. This allows me to provide my clients an expanded level of services, including customized guided meditations, one-on-one and workshop-level coaching on Dr. Kelly Turner's research, and precision-based medicine to guide treatment choices.
The emphasis on being a healthcare professional who is a person first and a professional second is intriguing. How does this perspective guide your interactions with clients, and what impact do you believe it has on their experience?
As a healthcare professional trained in the traditional system, we are unknowingly taught to value knowledge over the people to whom we are applying that knowledge. It wasn't until my dad was faced with a cancer diagnosis that I realized this and vowed to make a change. Not one member of my dad's medical team asked him how he was processing his diagnosis. No one asked the simple question, "How are you really doing?" When I started the Peace Advocacy Group, I wanted to take the approach of honoring and valuing the person first. I wanted to meet that individual right where they are, as a human being caring for another human being. Yes, I have many years of education and experience and those are utilized in the journey. But first and foremost, we are people seeking true connection with others.
The testimonials highlight the positive impact you've had on clients, especially in challenging times like the pandemic. Can you share a specific success story that stands out to you and illustrates the value of your services?
My first client was an elderly parent living out of state from his adult son, who ultimately found and hired me. The father was otherwise healthy and attentive to his wellness but had recently fallen ill and was hospitalized. He lived in a relatively remote area and found access to quality care challenging. His physicians were dismissing his concerns and he felt hopeless. After driving to meet the whole family in person and reviewing his symptoms and medical records, I agreed that something important was being missed by the medical team. I suggested that he either drive up to the hospital near me or another academic hospital a few hours in the other direction. He chose the former and was diagnosed with bacterial endocarditis, meaning he had a bacterial infection on his heart valve and he required immediate open-heart surgery. Shortly after his surgery, he called me to share his gratitude for having more time with his grandchildren. He also told me that he believed I was doing the work I was meant to do. I will never forget him, his family, or the impact they had on confirming my belief in this journey.
For those interested in learning more about your services, what steps can they take to connect with you or book a discovery call?
My website is a great resource and starting point: https://www.peaceadvocacygroup.com/. Through this site, you can book a discovery call, listen to my podcast episodes, read my blogs, and even shop for empowering apparel and accessories personally designed by me!
Thank you, Claudia!