Team Players: OH-IO

We have all talked about the importance of assembling a team to support our wide-ranging needs and treat our MS.  It is important – no, let me change that to critical – that the team we assemble is one we are comfortable with, we trust, and they are willing to listen to us and not just dictate directions.

So what happens when our team starts to come apart?  There has been more than one of us who has sidelined a player on our MS team – permanently benching someone who doesn’t work well on our team and calling up someone from reserve.  That is perfectly normal and acceptable.  It might be a matter of different opinions about treatment or styles of communicating – whatever it is this decision usually isn’t made lightly.  There’s always that concern the next team members will be another unknown and we don’t know if we can do better.

But what happens when one of our team members becomes a free agent and is picked up by another franchise?  Breaking up the near perfect team is a difficult thought to wade through and that is what I am currently faced with.  The co-captain on my MS Team since my diagnosis in 2008 is my neurologist, Aaron Boster, M.D., who I have written about a lot, as well as my experiences at The Ohio State Multiple Sclerosis Clinic. I just found out he is switching uniforms and going to practice with a different organization.

It’s the type of news that will travel fast in the medical circles but not necessarily for his patients who might be reading this. I found out this important news in a very public way … I was attending a pharma sponsored talk given by a local neurologist who I have worked with on other projects.  The same with the pharma rep – he and I have put together patient education programs in the past.  Both of them know I travel a distance to see Dr. Boster and neither hesitated to ask me in an almost gleeful way what I was going to do now that he is leaving Ohio State.

Fortunately my husband was at my side and prepared to catch me if I went down with this news which came out of left field.  I have observed several changes take place in the clinic over the past few months that had me wondering what was going on, but I figured their new administrator was just working on cost containment methods.  I hadn’t envisioned an almost complete changing of the physician staff, but that is what I was told by the Rep and the Doctor that is happening.  They said not only are the MS specialists leaving, they were beat out the door by the epilepsy neuro specialists, or at least some of them.

The duo voluntarily offered details, enough to make me wonder how I would make it through without this key player or the other ones I have come to know over the years. I took a deep breath, and mustered up the courage to ask if they know where he is going next.  And then I exhaled a deep sigh when they told me he’s just moving across town to the other team. I didn’t want to have to get on a plane to see him on the other side of the country.

Now mind you my loyalty is not to the practice but to my team’s co-captain, so when I got home I immediately began to research the new franchise and I have to admit I am impressed.  They are large and obviously have the resources to pull off a very ambitious expansion – this includes constructing a brand new building to house a comprehensive neurorehabilitation center.  The building plans include everything one might need – labs, MRI, clinic space, infusion center, rehabilitation facilities, and even patient beds should there be a need to be admitted and monitored long term.  MS patients at this new place will no longer be just one of many different diseases needing help, but in a facility that almost exclusively treats neurological disorders.

Honestly, I get a bit excited when I look over their website and see the vision they have for the future of MS care.  They even have a live web cam where  I can watch the construction of this new mega-facility, which is due to open in mid-2015.

IF Dr. Boster will continue to have me as a patient, and my insurance will allow me to switch to this new franchise, I will make the change.  I have no problem wearing different team colors as long as I keep my co-captain.

It is somewhat mind boggling to think of all that will need to be done- do you remember what it’s like to become a NEW PATIENT anywhere?  Yes, there will be lots of paperwork. I will probably have to set an appointment to “meet” the doctor and arrange for the release of my medical records to the new place even though he already knows everything about me.  I will have to work through the patient support program for my Tysabri to switch my participation in the Touch Program and get their continued financial support for the monthly treatments.  Ironically, just the same day I heard this news I finalized my paperwork and pharmacy support for 2015. I hope switching to a new clinic won’t be a major hurdle to clear.  People move all the time – they shouldn’t care that this is only 5 miles away, right? What is  guaranteed is I will need lots of time to make the necessary phone calls to switch my services.

It might be especially tough going back to being the model patient as I learn the new procedures and faces on the team. I’ve spent all this time not only with my neurologist, but also the nurse practitioners, the nurses, medical assistants and receptionists – I know them and they know me, warts and all.  It will be sad to say goodbye when that time comes.  Maybe some of those smiling faces will pop up at the new place to continue to cheer me on – they really are wonderful and supportive professionals and I will miss them. Remember, because of my Tysabri infusions I am there at least once a month.  That’s a lot of time with the entire roster and not just the all-stars.

And then there is the research study I have been in for almost two years for  extended release baclofen – the study has moved on to the open label part, which means I get the drugs until the company decides to stop.  I’m not sure if it is on the market yet, and if not I guess I will have to go back to the other formula. I’ll have to talk with the OSU MS research staff and figure this one out.

Why am I taking the time to write about this now?  If any of you have ever ‘lost’ a doctor who moved on, you know that it usually comes as a surprise.  There’s some code of ethics or maybe it is even a matter of law that doctors can’t talk to their patients about leaving.   It may be a strange form of non-competition clause that keeps doctors from telling their patients straight out they are leaving.  A while back I got a letter from another doctor who left this same practice –all it said was he thanked me for trusting him with my medical care, without a clue as to where he went.  Honestly I was surprised, not because he left but because I had never been his patient.  At least he sent a letter- in the past I have had appointments transferred to other doctors because the original doctors were no longer at a particular practice, with no explanation at all.  I always feel bad for the staff who must field the questions about changes but aren’t allow to share the real answers.

If you are one of the 4,000 people with MS who are treated at The Ohio State Multiple Sclerosis Clinic, and fortunate to have an appointment with one of these doctors at the MS clinic  in the next few weeks, I want you to have the chance to tell them how much they will be missed and say your goodbyes.  And you deserve to know they are leaving before they are gone. Then again, you may be like me and refuse to let my dream team be disbanded and follow the doctors to the other side of town.   I look forward to seeing what the new locker room and team facilities are like.

Wishing you well,

Laura

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The MultipleSclerosis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (8)
  • Laura Kolaczkowski author
    4 years ago

    I am so glad you heard this news and can pass it on. I know it is going to be a shock to a lot of people who will also be stunned. I’m so glad I could help. . -Laura

  • Penny
    4 years ago

    I called Riverside today, thank goodness! I was scheduled at OSU on 1/5 and I would have not been very nice if I had gone to my appt in Gahanna to find that Dr Boster had already moved. In fact I think I probably would have made a complete idiot of myself which is completely not my style. However, the receptionist at his new office was very kind and took my info and is going to call at the end of December to get me in at the beginning of January. Luckily, I was able to pass this info along to three friends who also had appts scheduled in January as well! What a relief! I wish Colleen was going too
    🙁

  • Penny
    4 years ago

    It is almost ironic that I just happened across your post. I was at our recognition banquet for the Ohio Valley Chapter in Cincinnati on Saturday. Nearly everyone I know in Springfield where I live drives to OSU to see Dr. Boster. I learned of this Saturday from another person from Springfield. I was devastated, scared…well you name it. I have only known I have had MS since 2010. My first 2.5 yrs were horrible. I failed on two drugs and ended up taking chemotherapy with Cytoxin for 6 months to “reboot” my immune system as a last ditch effort. Dr. Boster never rushes, gives you options but does tell you straight up what he believes is the best one. I was comforted by the fact that he handed me the article written by him and two other physicians about the use of chemotherapy in MS. I drive an hour to see him because I don’t want a neurologist proficient in many neuro conditions. I want a neurologist who is an expert in one area of neurology~my area, MS!! I want him/her to be on the edge of research,clinical trials.
    I am saddened if he will not be able to participate in the research part of MS anymore. However, I absolutely do know that Riverside is the premiere crown jewel of the Ohio Health system. They have nothing less than the best reputation in neuro services.
    My understanding is that my friend called the number she tracked down to try to make an appt at Riverside with Dr. Boster but they do not have his calendar yet. My understanding is it may be as late as end of summer before he transitions over.
    I do agree we deserve the courtesy of being notified in advance though. I was personally devastated when Mary Pat left and I had no clue. Never got a notice or anything.

  • Penny
    4 years ago

    Laura,
    I am so very happy you left me the number lol. You can bet I will be sharing with everyone I know :). I will never understand why OSU would allow suvh wonderful physicians to leave!! I will be sharing with all those I know who are with him as well :). I did find this link of the OVC site!!!

  • Laura Kolaczkowski author
    4 years ago

    Yes, Mary Pat’s departure was a surprise to all of us and she is missed. she is at River Hills in the Cincinnati area. She is a prime example of why I am sharing this information over and over. 🙂

  • Laura Kolaczkowski author
    4 years ago

    Penny, I am being as vocal as possible to get the word out – because of your experience and mine with Dr. Boster. I could not come to the banquet because I also run the MS Aquatics program at UD on Saturday mornings.. I would have loved to be there. I posted a link to this on the OVC and Buckeye chapter FB pages to get the word out and I hope you will share this link, too. patients should have the right to know….

    Riverside is taking the names and numbers of Dr. Boster AND Dr. Nicholas’ patients and they will be scheduling appointments with them after January 1, which is when they leave OSU and begin with Ohio Health. you will not be waiting until late summer to see them, but that is when the new neuroscience center building is due to open. Their phone number is listed on the web page – just follow the link in my article and you will see the number toward the bottom. (the number is (614) 533-5500 and the scheduler is very pleasant.)

    I understand there will be research opportunities and much more once this change is done. Riverside already does MS research, so we shouldn’t miss that side. I’m so glad to know the word is getting out because being surprised with their ‘disappearance’ is not the way to learn this news. best, Laura

  • itasara
    4 years ago

    I read your article with interest (not because I am a previous Ohioan) but because where I am in NYS I have seen little of anything called a team approach. Now maybe that is my fault b/c I’m not sure so far if I have needed services that would need a team support and I haven’t felt the need to even ask about it. I have my internist associated with the University. I have my neuro who is in his own practice and is basically associated with another hospital in town. And other usual specialty docs-gyn, who was in private practice but is moving more to the universiy group and my opthamologist who works mostly out of the hospital my neurologist does. Most all the doctors have privileges at the university but that isn’t quite the same thing. Maybe someday I’ll need a team approach, but the way I see communication these days, it isn’t what I would call cohesive. I have my own relationship with each doctor. If I say something to my neuro about a problem I might have, he says, as he did recently, that is something to talk to your internist about. He could have discussed it with my internest, but that hardly happens today. Docs are more pressed for time than ever. Now there are things that could or could not be related to MS as you know b/c MS involves more than one area of the body. I suppose if I were to leave all my docs and go to the MS clinic at the University, maybe, and that is a big maybe, there would be more of a team approach. However, when I was diagnosed 9 years ago, I went there for a second opinion. I did not like my experience there in the least. I waited almost two hours in the exam room until the head of the clinic and an internist or resident came to see me and even then I was treated in rather brash, hurried manner. I’m a very patient person, but even if it was a busy day for the docs, I feel I could have had a better visit. So I decided I’d rather stick with a doctor in his own office and not in that clinic setting.

  • Laura Kolaczkowski author
    4 years ago

    Thanks for sharing your experiences with the doctors. By TEAM approach, I am referring to selecting the best group of players for our own individual care and not finding a group of doctors who work together and then I see them all at one place. I view my MS neurologist as the key player in this one, right after me. I’m like almost everyone else with MS and I have a long list of ‘ologists’ who treat me for various pieces and parts.

    My distaste for this whole process is that patients are always the last to know. If we are supposed to be central to our care, it sure would be nice to know if and when our doctors are leaving. AND be told where they have gone. As it is, most of the time even their staff is not allowed to say anything, for fear of being reprimanded or worse.

    I do think this might be better because he is going to a hospital setting and out of the academic world from what I understand. I just have to stay positive and wait it out. thanks again, Laura

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