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New York - Williamsburg Jewish Activist Driving Force Behind New NY Restroom Access Law, Providing Relief To Crohn's, Colitis Sufferers

Published on: January 15, 2018 09:00 PM
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The new law came about through the efforts of Williamsburg resident Yoely Drummer who was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease ten years ago.<br />
The new law came about through the efforts of Williamsburg resident Yoely Drummer who was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease ten years ago.

New York - A bill recently signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo will finally be bringing welcome relief to those who suffer from two different types of Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

The Crohn’s and Colitis Fairness Act was passed by the legislature last June and would give those who suffer from either of these two chronic diseases or certain other medical conditions the legal right to use employee-only restrooms at any business that is open to the public during regular business hours. 

The bill, which was sponsored by Senator Kemp Hannon of Long Island and co-sponsored by Senator Simcha Felder in the Senate and sponsored by Assemblywoman Amy Paulin in the Assembly, came about through the efforts of Williamsburg resident Yoely Drummer who was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease ten years ago.

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“When you have a flare up, you to need to have a restroom and it is an instant emergency,” Drummer told VIN News.

Drummer founded the Jewish Crohn’s and Colitis Support Group seven years ago.  An attack of Crohn’s that had him rushing into a Duane Reade store that had no public bathrooms and being refused permission to use the employee restroom, was one of several disturbing incidents that stands out in his memory.

“I had a card explaining that I have Crohn’s but the manager told me the restroom was broken,” said Drummer.  “He had 10 to 15 employees in the store and I asked him how he accommodated them and he told me he didn’t have an answer.

I walked into a restaurant across the street, bought a bottle of water and they let me use their restroom but these kinds of things happen every day and if a pharmacy could do this to me, I had to do something.”

Taking matters into his own hands, Drummer spoke with his local elected officials and was advised that the best way to create a legislative solution to the problem would be to enlist a Republican senator to take up his cause.

“One Friday morning about three or four years ago I picked myself up and drove out to Long Island to the office Senator Hannon, chairman of the Senate health committee, with no appointment and asked to talk to him,” said Drummer. 

“After a half hour wait I met with a legislative executive who asked me a million questions.  We had a committee meeting on Monday and the Senator’s staff was shocked that I had just walked in with no appointment. I told him we have chutzpah and I wasn’t going to wait for an appointment which could take months.”

Drummer said that there were technicalities along the way as the bill was drafted, most notably deciding that businesses would not be required to make their employee bathrooms wheelchair accessible in order to accommodate the new legislation.

Under the new law, all businesses that are open to the public and have two or more employees are required to grant access to employee-only restrooms to anyone with IBD or other medical conditions that requires immediate access to a bathroom if there are no public facilities available. 

The Crohn’s and Colitis Fairness Act would only be applicable during business hours and under conditions that would not create safety risks to the requesting individual or the place of business.

The bill was approved with a memo by Governor Cuomo in mid-December, a classification that Drummer explained denotes that while the bill was signed into law by the governor, further details still need to be resolved, in this case determining how people would be able to prove their medical need, which could be done through an official identification card or a letter from their personal physician.

Drummer said that the details of the bill would be finalized within 120 days after which time it would become state law.

According to Healthline.com (http://bit.ly/2mzjFbn) 15 states already have a similar law on the books including Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin.  Punishments for non-compliance vary by state, with Massachusetts levying a $100 fine on first offenders and $200 for a second violation.

Jews of Ashkenazic descent are five to seven times more likely to suffer from Crohn’s disease according to Felder, who was diagnosed with Crohn’s at age 17.  He noted that over the years finding stores that allow use of their restrooms has become more and more difficult.  As the final minutiae of the law are ironed out, Felder offered his advice to those who suffer from IBD.

“Get a letter from your doctor and save a copy of this new legislation on your phone so that if over the next few months you have an urgent situation you will have something to base your claims on and hopefully see better results,” suggested Felder.

Felder praised the JCCSG for its work that will benefit thousands who find themselves in terrible situations when a flare up occurs.

“This bill is very important and very personal to me and while it wasn’t my idea once I was happy to come on board and provide my assistance in any way possible,” said Felder. 

“It just goes to show you that when they say ‘you can’t fight City Hall’ it just isn’t true.  When dedicated people decide they want to do something and are persistent, they really can make things happen.  The moral of the story here is that people should never give up.”



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Read Comments (11)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Jan 15, 2018 at 09:56 PM ALTERG4 Says:

I know personally this young guy rabbi yoel drummer (btw he was named after the great holy satmar rabba zt"l) he is an energic guy with lot of qualifications & he worked hard for this bill, he shows us a lesson if there is a will you can break ice, i can see him grow the ladder up & be a big politician one day,
Lot of luck yoely.

2

 Jan 15, 2018 at 10:41 PM Anonymous Says:

I know people that have the disease and I feel very bad that they can not be accommodated. I congratulate you for your hard work and seeing results. Thank you.

3

 Jan 16, 2018 at 12:07 AM lazy-boy Says:

although I do NOT have the disease, there have been times that I have been out and needed a toilet urgently. T.G. often businesses have been very kind to me and once I knocked on a home and they let me in.

But I agree that a public store should have a public rest room for all to use.

5

 Jan 16, 2018 at 01:01 AM Shiawald Says:

I want to applaud you Yoely for your tireless , selfless acts of kindness that cannot be put into enough words to describe what an inspiring individual you are to klal yisroel. I , as a good friend am personally associated with him on a daily basis and have witnessed numerous times him being busy taking confidential calls with patients and doctors worldwide at any given time of the day, always putting klal yisroel as his first priority. I admire you for your intense devotion for each and every yid that needs your organizations support and continuous guidance. You are a true hero for passing this bill and klal yisroel has so much to be grateful for such a hardworking asken like you! May hashem repay you and your wife for being in this together as a team, and for all your continuous chesed you both do for klal yisroel!!!

6

 Jan 16, 2018 at 08:20 AM Father of UC patient Says:

Reb Yoely is truly amazing and gives very good advice. May you never need their services but if you do they are a great resource in dealing with Chrohns and Ulcerative Colitis. Congrats on getting the bill passed!

7

 Jan 16, 2018 at 10:04 AM GMalka Says:

How sad! The necessity to pass legislation when doing a kind and mentschlich action is all it takes.

8

 Jan 16, 2018 at 12:06 PM AuthenticSatmar Says:

Just because this is a sympathetic and moral thing to do, passing a law is the wrong approach.
Is there a requirement that you clean up after yourself? And why should I not be allowed to charge? Letting other use my bathroom costs me money, and the gov't has no right to force me to pay for others conditions.
As someone who owns a store, letting in strangers from the street costs me money. Can they pass a law that says I must give a free soda to someone who comes in and says they are thirsty?
I understand where he is coming from, but people need to see the other side of the story too. We are demanding too much from businesses today, and no wonder, so many are closing up and leaving NY.

9

 Jan 16, 2018 at 12:52 PM Maven Says:

Kudos to Yoely!
A plain yiddishe fellow did what our so called big machers Askonim didn't do. Perhaps with his strong will he should become active in housing. He would probably accomplish much more than our so called activists by doing nothing for the klal. Besides helping greedy frum developers..

Again, job well done.

10

 Jan 16, 2018 at 02:35 PM new_crohns_patient Says:

Congratulations Yoely Drummer his achievement,
Over the last short period of time I have got to know Yoely. As our child was recently diagnosed with Crohn’s I was totally lost I have never heard much of this disease before, I didn’t know what to do, to which doctor to go to, I was disappointed with the diagnosis and unwilling to accept, I called JCCSG ~ Jewish Crohn's & Colitis Support Group and spoke to Yoely, I must say Yoely’s Service and support is priceless, at first he forwarded some seminar playback’s which was very informtive and supportive, than he helped with doctors and appointment. I have spoken several times to Yoely always there to answer the phone and has the time to listen to people in distress and help with whatever possible.
Yoely deserves to be recognized as a pioneer for two reason,
First for his time, devotion and accomplishment to the community,
Second for speaking out, most people in the community will not talk and keep it a secret will not share advice, experiences etc. Yoely with his organization have taught people in the community we can talk about Chron’s and help each other and we don’t have to live in the dark.
Lot’s of Hatzlacha, Thank you for help

11

 Jan 16, 2018 at 02:41 PM ALTERG4 Says:

I know personally this young guy rabbi yoel drummer (btw he was named after the great holy satmar rabba zt"l) he is an energic guy with lot of qualifications & he worked hard for this bill, he shows us a lesson if there is a will you can break ice, i can see him grow the ladder up & be a big politician one day,
Lot of luck yoely.

12

 Jan 16, 2018 at 02:48 PM new_crohns_patient Says:

Reply to #8  
AuthenticSatmar Says:

Just because this is a sympathetic and moral thing to do, passing a law is the wrong approach.
Is there a requirement that you clean up after yourself? And why should I not be allowed to charge? Letting other use my bathroom costs me money, and the gov't has no right to force me to pay for others conditions.
As someone who owns a store, letting in strangers from the street costs me money. Can they pass a law that says I must give a free soda to someone who comes in and says they are thirsty?
I understand where he is coming from, but people need to see the other side of the story too. We are demanding too much from businesses today, and no wonder, so many are closing up and leaving NY.

" so many are leaving NY" read in the article "15 states already have a similar law on the books including Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin" plus more states will follow with time, so sorry there nowhere to run.

13

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