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All Boards >> Irritable Bowel Syndrome Research Library

HeatherAdministrator

Reged: 12/09/02
Posts: 7677
Loc: Seattle, WA
Wasington state retailers required to make bathrooms available to people with IBS and IBD
      05/13/09 01:06 PM



Published: Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Edmonds woman key to suggesting new relief law

By Jerry Cornfield
Herald Writer

OLYMPIA -- An idea in an e-mail from an Edmonds woman became a new law Monday and should bring peace of mind to thousands of people with incurable bowel disorders.

And those not suffering such ailments may benefit, too.

Gov. Chris Gregoire signed legislation requiring retailers make employee bathrooms available to customers with Crohn's disease and other gastrointestinal disorders that can make need of a restroom an unexpected emergency.

"Individuals with qualifying medical conditions will be able to live a more comfortable life," Gregoire said upon acting.

Edmonds' Lois Fink stood at Gregoire's side and said afterward that the moment had "a dreamlike quality."

"There were so many emotions going through me," said Fink, a Crohn's sufferer who since having an ileostomy in 1986 has been able to enjoy a more normal life.

Rep. Marko Liias, D-Mukilteo, introduced the bill after receiving an e-mail from Fink last year in which she laid out the problem and possible solutions.

Today, many retailers do allow the public to use their private bathrooms on a case-by-case basis. The law, which takes effect July 25, requires they do so when the request comes from a person with documentation signed by a doctor listing their medical condition.

It is intended to serve people with inflammatory bowel disorders, such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Other conditions covered in the law are irritable bowel syndrome, those requiring use of an ostomy device and "any other permanent or temporary medical condition that requires immediate access to a restroom facility" such as pregnancy.

Liias has said as many as 30,000 people in Washington suffer from a bowel disorder. Among them is Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, another Crohn's sufferer, who attended the signing and praised Fink.

"I wanted to jump on her bandwagon and be part of it. This law is something I've always wanted to see happen," he said. "I really feel it's a moral and civil rights issue."

Fink and McCready each told of experiencing feelings of humiliation when they've gone into a shop and pleaded to use the restroom.

"It's a humane bill that will educate as well," Fink said.

People who don't suffer a gastrointestinal disorder will be helped by this law.

Under a last-minute change by the Senate, businesses, under certain circumstances, must allow any customer to use the facilities. The key circumstance is there must be at least three employees on hand at the time. This requirement does not apply for those with a qualifying medical condition.

In all instances, a company can deny access to their bathrooms if doing so poses a health or safety risk to the customer.

Also, banks, financial institutions and firms dealing with sensitive material can turn down the requests if it means customers would have to enter secure areas to reach the restroom

The final version of the legislation passed the House 93-0 and the Senate on a 33-12 margin.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623,

http://heraldnet.com/article/20090512/NEWS01/705129886


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Heather is the Administrator of the IBS Message Boards. She’s the author of Eating for IBS and The First Year: IBS, and the CEO of Heather's Tummy Care. Join her IBS Newsletter. Meet Heather on Facebook!

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