We Can’t Wait: New app helps inflammatory bowel disease patients find available restrooms nearby
Published: February 8, 2022
NEW YORK, NY — The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, the leading non-profit dedicated to finding cures for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and improving patient quality of life, today launched the We Can’t Wait app, which provides an interactive map that allows users to find a restroom near them across the U.S. Driven by crowd-sourced submissions and major retail and restaurant partners that contributed their restroom location data, the app empowers IBD patients – and all users – with a tool to find restrooms more easily, both in emergency and everyday situations. The app is free and available for download now.
With significant support from lead sponsor Eli Lilly, the We Can’t Wait app helps individuals solve for a significant public health issue: a lack of available public restrooms. Everyone has experienced the challenge of being away from home and needing to use a restroom, but for some people, like IBD patients, quick restroom access is a medical necessity. Many IBD patients experience urgent bowel movements, which can happen unexpectedly at anytime, anywhere. If a restroom isn’t immediately available (or if they are turned away by a business), patients may face debilitating pain, extreme anxiety, and even traumatic bowel accidents.
The We Can’t Wait app is the centerpiece of the Foundation’s Open Restrooms Movement. In partnership with peer health care advocacy organizations, we are calling on stakeholders in the public and private sectors to recognize the issue of restroom access as a basic human need and permit public access to restrooms wherever possible. Businesses and governments can help solve this critical scarcity of public restrooms with a simple act of human kindness: opening their restrooms. Partners in this movement include the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG), the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA), National Association for Continence (NAFC), We CARE in IBD, Improve Care Now (ICN), IBD Moms, South Asian IBD Alliance (SAIA), United Ostomy Associations of America (UOAA), the Celiac Disease Foundation, the Infusion Access Foundation, the National Health Council, Color of Crohn’s and Chronic Illness (COCCI) and Girls with Guts.
“Our patient community has always been vocal about the challenges and frustrations that come with finding a restroom. The Foundation has fought alongside them to ensure patients can achieve the highest quality of life,” said Michael Osso, President and CEO of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation. “By creating resources like the We Can’t Wait app and sparking more conversations about IBD and restroom access, we are working to foster a safer, healthier, and more understanding world for IBD patients.”
On the app, users simply navigate the on-screen map to find a restroom close to their location; they can also submit locations to be added to the map. To kickstart the app’s launch and ensure more businesses will be genuinely welcoming to patients, the Foundation is partnering with major U.S. retailers and restaurants, including the Home Depot and Just Salad, among others. With more than 3,000 partner locations at launch (45,000 total), the Foundation is actively adding restrooms through partnerships and crowd-sourcing.
We Can’t Wait builds on the Foundation’s longstanding efforts to ensure restroom access for anyone with a medical necessity. The Foundation’s support for patient advocacy at the state level has helped lead to the passage of the Restroom Access Act (also known as Ally’s Law) in 18 states, which gives patients with certain medical conditions access to employee-only restrooms if a public one is unavailable. While the Foundation has long supported local volunteer efforts at the state level as they promoted this legislation, we find that awareness of the law is very low, and compliance by businesses is still a major issue for patients. The Open Restrooms Movement is another way to help give patients more access to this very fundamental human need.
For more information, please visit: crohnscolitisfoundation.org/openrestrooms
Crohn's & Colitis Foundation
The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation is the leading nonprofit organization focused on both research and patient support for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), with the mission of curing Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis and improving the quality of life for the millions of Americans living with IBD. The Foundation’s work is dramatically accelerating the research process, while also providing extensive educational and support resources for patients and their families, medical professionals, and the public.