WHAT? MedStar Health, an alleged not-for-profit health care organization, operates more than 120 entities, including ten hospitals in the Baltimore–Washington metropolitan area of the United States. This includes MedStar Georgetown University Hospital (MGUH), styling itself as a teaching hospital. MGUH and MedStar Health have a serious communications problem—along with an apparent inability to do their job.
WHO? ME? Yep. Along with my charming smile, once-auburn hair, and eye color, I inherited something called Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease (CMT). While it has nothing to do with my choppers, being named for two Frenchmen and an Englishman who studied it in the 19th century, it is intimately connected to my physical well-being. The malady causes the slow, progressive loss of muscle and muscle tone in the extremities. Nerves activating the muscles lose their insulation, essentially shorting out and blocking commands to contract or loosen. Imagine a switched-on, electric table lamp. Now, take a knife and shave off the plastic or rubber on the wire to the mains socket. The light goes dark. That’s CMT in a nutshell—along with difficulty walking, balancing, and losing fine motor skills in the hands. No picking up pennies from flat surfaces. And finding major problems with U.S. government employment.
WHY? For nearly 10 years, I have been going to MGUH’s Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) Clinic for an on-going examination of my CMT. And for nearly 10 years, I had been seen by competent, knowledgeable, compassionate medicos such as Michael D. Sirdofsky, M.D. Unfortunately, Dr. Sirdofsky is now retired. And that’s where the problem started.
THE PROBLEM. In late summer 2019, MGUH’s physical therapy department referred me to the Hanger Clinic on 31st St. N.W. in Washington, D.C. The nationwide firm supplies ankle-foot orthoses (AFOs), essentially half-boots that brace the lower legs and feet, compensating for the ravages of CMT.
Unfortunately for me, the Hanger Clinic couldn’t pad the footplates of the new orthoses—even though I showed them my old pair which, while comfortably cushioned, needed an upgrade due to loss of muscle.
Despite repeated visits, Hanger still couldn’t supply me with comfortable braces. I returned their latest iteration on August 4, 2021 as being ill-fitting and dangerous to use.
MGUH—AGAIN! After August 4, I sought help from Georgetown Hospital’s MDA Clinic—but couldn’t get an appointment until November 24, the day before Thanksgiving (the traditional American holiday where, for once, people eat better than the French).
Physical Therapy. I began calling the physical therapy department there, raging about Hanger and seeking aid in getting a new prescription for what I call Frankenfeet (orthoses). I met with Chris Grimm, their “expert” on AFOs. He examined my feet, my 7-year-old orthoses, and promised to get a justification written to enable me to deal with a qualified company for new braces.
That never happened. He told me that Medicare pays for new AFOs once every five years.
Wrong! Medicare told me that if these things are deemed a medical necessity, the organization will reimburse the supplier, no matter the time frame.
WORDS (AND FAXES AND TELEPHONE CALLS FAIL ME). I began calling the neurology department at MGUH without a response. I then called Michael Saschtleben, the hospital’s president. To no avail. I then tried Kenneth Samet, MedStar President and CEO. All I got was referrals to Patient Advocacy at MGUH.
More than a week ago, someone named Power, a nurse in the hospital’s neurology department, telephoned me, saying that Shreya Gandhy, D.O., had written a prescription for a new pair of Frankenfeet. And that it was being mailed to me. Since I live 3 miles (5 kilometers) from MGUH, I found that not receiving the script was passing strange. So, I called Dr. Gandhy. When I received no response, I faxed her. Days later, there has been no reply to the fax.
SOLUTION. Remove the politicians and bureaucraps masquerading as medical doctors and healthcare officials. Replace them with competent administrators and knowledgeable medicos. Strip U.S. Congressmen of their preferential medical insurance. And then establish a European-style healthcare system that provides preventive medicine and wellness programs for everyone, not just the few with enough money to pay for concierge care.