Ashton Nesmith-Kochera, BCPA, CBD (CBI)​​
​​Board Certified Patient Advocate,
and Certified Birth Doula

"My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor and some style."-- Maya Angelou

It took twenty-five years for Ashton to be properly diagnosed with a genetic connective tissue disorder, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, and multiple co-morbid conditions. It was Ashton’s life experiences and gained knowledge that led her to a career in patient advocacy. Ashton went to college and became a teacher but was only able to pursue her childhood dream for a short time before teaching was not an option due to the reality of her unpredictable and demanding health needs at the time.


Her passion to educate and support others came easy when she felt called to help those who experienced similar health situations. Ashton's own traumatic pregnancy, childbirth & NICU experience in 2006 was the motivation behind Ashton becoming a certified birth doula in 2009 and co-founding Hagerstown Birth, a non-profit childbirth advocacy organization. In 2015, after realizing the impact Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome had on Ashton, she founded a local Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome support group, Tri-State EDS which currently has nearly 300 members. In early 2018, Ashton became one of the 149, first, National Board Certified Patient Advocates. 


 A lover of both reading and writing, Ashton is currently writing her own book and has two published pieces in current medical literature. Ashton also speaks on behalf of CampaignZERO – Families for Patient Safety as one of their Community Educators and lobbies on behalf of chronic illness and rare disease patients as a legislative advocate. Among being a member of many other patient advocacy organizations, Ashton also sits on various committees and boards within those organizations to help raise awareness and bring change to better our U.S. Healthcare System.


Between spending time with her family and friends and what life has to offer around her home in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia (outskirts of the Washington DC Metro Area between Maryland & Virginia), Ashton continues to further her education and expertise by attending continuing education classes, medical conferences and patient advocacy events. Ashton lives to make every day count as she’s committed to ensuring that others never have to experience what she’s endured.



 

A few highlights of Ashton's patient advocacy efforts:
The Shepherdstown Chronicle
WDVM News