Archive for November 4th, 2009

Off on a Rant…

Okay. This is definitely going to be a bit of a rant. I’m disappointed, outraged, concerned, and incredibly ticked off – and this seems like a better place to express that anger than, say, randomly shooting people at UNM Hospital.

First I want to point out that, from day one, I have had nothing but praise for St. Vincent’s Cancer Center in Santa Fe and it’s staff. I’m very grateful to have had a place close to my home that provided professional, yet personal, care. And I believe I’ve generally gotten very good treatment there. (What follows is not a reflection on them.)

On the other end of the spectrum, every experience and interaction I’ve had with UNM Hospital and UNM’s Cancer Center in Albuquerque has been a disaster and a disappointment. At every turn I’ve been treated like “one more patient” to manage, if I was lucky enough not to be ignored. Their communication with me has been abysmal, with appointments cancelled and rescheduled at the last minute (routinely) and “courtesy calls” coming in a day before procedures I wasn’t even aware I was to have.

But this latest turn of events takes the cake.

I was supposed to see “my surgeon” Dr. Rajput today at UNM. That appointment has been cancelled (once again). I have just been informed that Dr. Rajput cannot do my surgery on November 24th as scheduled. Without any discussion or seeming concern for the risks involved for me, they are now postponing my surgery until December 7th. To add insult to injury, I was then told I could see Dr. Rajput for my “pre-op” visit on December 2nd! When I objected vociferously to the short amount of time between the office visit and the surgery (giving me no time to digest the information about surgery that I’ve been waiting months to be able to ask), they agreed to move my office visit up to November 25th.

All of this is totally unacceptable to me and to my medical oncologist, Dr. Fekrazad. I’ve been told repeatedly that the optimal time for surgery is six weeks after chemo/radiation treatment ends. Sometimes they will stretch it to eight weeks, but the longer the time between the end of treatment and surgery the more the risk of a recurrence of the cancer.

The original surgery date of November 24th was one day shy of eight weeks after treatment ended. The new surgery date of December 7th is two days short of ten weeks.

Back in August when I first met with Dr. Rajput, I was given to believe he was “the guy” to do my surgery. He’s one of only a very few surgical oncologists in New Mexico. I was told that other surgeons in the area who had experience performing colon surgery were not oncologists and that I’d be better off with Dr. Rajput.

Now, however, I’m seriously questioning whether I want to have my surgery at a place that has failed to build any trust with me, has failed to communicate adequately with me, and has failed to consider my needs as a patient when repeatedly cancelling and rescheduling appointments and procedures. So, today, as much as I loath the idea, I will begin the process of searching for another surgeon. I don’t actually have much hope of successfully finding someone who (a) is qualified to do this surgery, (b) can see me immediately, (c) will be able to schedule surgery in only two or three weeks, and (d) my insurance company will accept. But, that’s the mountain I’m going to begin climbing today.

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