Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Public Service Announcement

If you are a military spouse considering bariatric surgery and you will be moving frequently...this is for you.

As you can see from my ticker, I have been banded for 18 months.  In those 18 months, 12 months have been spent with no kind of follow-up due to moves and bariatric specialists in the new areas not wanting to see me because I did not have the surgery with them.

I had my surgery in April 2010 at Tallgrass Surgical Center in Topeka, KS.  The surgeons and staff there are great!  However, due to my husband's career choice, we ended up with orders to move to Florida at the the end of May 2010.  I had a a quick post op check up a week after surgery and then 3 weeks later, I went in and received my first fill (3cc in a 10cc band).

When I got to Florida June 1st, I started looking for a new specialist to follow up with.  One wanted a $450 "administrative fee" that was not covered by insurance (Tricare Standard).  The second "only" wanted $250 for his administrative fee.  He came highly recommended, so I went with him and because we were going to be there for such a short amount of time, the fee ended up being waived....but not until after I had saved up and went to the first appointment (about 5 months after my last visit with my surgeon in KS).  I think I got to see him 3 times and received a fill each time.  When I left Florida at the end of May 2011, I had 5cc in my 10cc band.

So we arrive in Maryland in June 2011.  The search starts again. I think I'll make it easier on myself and go with a version of Tricare Prime that will allow me to use the Johns Hopkins system.  As previously posted, I was able to maintain throughout the move until we got settled.  I got a referral from my Primary Care Physician in August.  I didn't get around to calling the specialist until the beginning of September.  The first words out of the person on the other line's mouth were "We won't see you.  You didn't have your procedure done here."
My response:
"Really?!  You accept a health insurance plan only offered to military families...who by the very nature of the servicemember's career are very transient because we move with the needs of the Army...but you won't see someone who had the surgery somewhere else?  What happens to your patients who move away?  Do you really just implant a medical device in people and say "good luck" if they move?  Would you want your patient's treated that way?  Would you want to be treated that way?"
So then she informs me they have a "process" and if I can fax that info to her she will submit it to the director and he will decide if they will see me.  Fast forward three weeks after I fax the information and I have still not heard anything, I call to check on the status.  She doesn't know but when she hears something, she'll call me.  Another week later, i still haven't heard anything and had to make a visit to my PCP for another acute issue and mentioned my experience.  He gets a little upset because just days before the Chief of Surgery for this group had been saying how they really wanted to start seeing more of the patients on the same plan I am on.  My PCP talks with his receptionist to make a phone call.  Apparently the phone call didn't get too far, so my PCP ended up sending an email to a specific doctor and his receptionist calls to give me his name.  I then call back to the surgeon's to schedule.  Now my info is missing...but I have a different person on the line and I after going through the above spiel again, I mention my PCP is involved and has worked it out with a specific surgeon.  She does a little checking and low and behold!  I'm right!  So since my info was all missing, I had to fax my records once again and then fill out new patient info which I faxed back.  This is all over a month after I originally faxed the requested info and I still don't have an appointment.  Hopefully, that will get straightened out tomorrow.

So....long story short:
If you are an active duty family member who is likely to be moving every few years, be aware that recieving follow up care can be a very real challenge.

On another note:
I am hoping the appointment is sooner rather than later and I am hoping for some imaging with contrast.  Again I'm having problems with pain on the left side of my stomach, similar to the pain I had pre-surgery that I think was related to the hiatal hernia that was repaired.  I'm also concerned about possible slippage or erosion and am still considering revision to bypass.  We will see.

1 comment:

  1. Dani- i know this hasn't been the road that you thought you were stepping onto 18 months ago, but i must admit how proud i am of you for not giving up on yourself! i hope you can get in soon, get some help, some answers and be pain free! Love you lady!