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Losing Patients

To the Editor:

The actions or lack of actions by Albany Med concerning the patients of Dr. Patrick Mroczkowski are reprehensible. Your article [“When the Doctor Is Gone,” Oct. 7] focused on grief in the majority, and while there is an issue of grief, the crucial matter is an utter lack of sensible professional administrative action on the part of Albany Med. Most importantly, Albany Med is coldly ignoring patients’ medical needs by effectively jettisoning them via a “letter.”

Rheumatoid arthritis is not a matter of some aches and pains. The article failed to make this clear. Rheumatoid arthritis is different than “common” or osteoarthritis. It never goes away. It is a chronic debilitating disease that progresses relentlessly. In moderate to severe cases, it renders one incapable of walking, dialing a phone, or opening a door, and leaves one in constant pain.

In the best case, the treatments available today merely halt the progression of the disease for an indeterminate a period of time but, more often than not, fail to fully alleviate the debilitating symptoms. All that treatment can do for moderate- to severe-level patients is to offer a chance to function from day to day, if the medications work. Many times they are less than effective. With this treatment comes a wide range of pernicious and potentially dire side effects. The drugs involved are often dangerous, require constant monitoring by a doctor, and often require regular lab tests.

RA meds cannot be abruptly stopped in the main without significant and dangerous side effects and consequences. Steroids are just one example. Apparently for a great number of Dr. Mroczkowski’s patients, nothing was done to assure that their prescriptions would be renewed. How is this responsible medicine?

Dr. Venditti, representing Albany Med, is quoted, “Out of respect, we’ve waited a little bit of time” (before seeking a replacement)! Respect? Respect for who or what? How is that “respectful” of the patients who desperately need treatment?

Wouldn’t a proper and responsible course of action have been to immediately make arrangements with the area’s other rheumatologists to donate/provide their time, each on a part-time basis, or to waive their “policy” on not taking certain insurances—so that no patient would have to suffer, or be turned away from a private practice? And, to do this until such time as Albany Med’s “search” succeeds in restaffing their rheumatology practice? (By the way, their letter failed to mention any such “search.”)

Let’s not even broach the question of why a short time back Albany Med cut the staffing in the specialty clinics in the first place, or why when Dr. Kremer left the practice with other doctors those spots were never filled—creating this dangerous and troublesome vacuum now.

Why would the doctors in this area who supposedly take an oath to care for patients not step forward on their own? Why do so many of this area’s doctors turn away patients whose insurance doesn’t pay them “enough” (are these doctors broke, living in poverty, having their homes or cars repossessed?) Why is there only one doctor who is part-time “covering” for only some of Dr. Mroczkowski’s patients?

Does Albany Med actually believe that they have so little responsibility for their patients? Is it appropriate, proper or even merely professional to discard and jettison patients in such a manner? (Their offer of “30 days” of ER “care” is outrageous and so inadequate for so very many reasons—this is what was in their letter to patients.)

Albany Med should fix this problem and take care of their patients immediately, without equivocation or delay.

Name withheld on request

To the Editor:

Dr. Parick Mroczkowski will be greatly missed not only by his patients, his students, and the staff with whom he worked, but also by this area’s rheumatologists, who recognized his unique gifts. He was known and admired for his scholarship, his teaching skills, and his abiity to “think outside the box.” An annual memorial lectureship in his name is being established at Albany Medical College.

Lee Shapiro, M.D.


Buy or Die!

To the Editor:

I was initially thrilled to see a half-page preview in Metroland for Chuck Palahniuk’s Sept. 21 event [“Night and Day,” Sept. 16]. But then I read the article. Three quarters of the story was devoted not to Chuck Palahniuk, but to an imaginary interview? One in which the author is portrayed as an ungrateful, jaded snob? Was this done out of spite because you couldn’t get an actual interview or were you trying to be clever? Just because his books (take note: fiction) can have offensive or sensational topics, does not mean that you should assume and apply offensive tones to a made up interview with the actual author. I was shocked that you portrayed him as such an ungrateful wretch when quite the opposite is true. This space could have been better devoted to say, actually talking about his many books and accomplishments, or to giving more details on the event. Or, if you didn’t feel you had anything nice to say, you could’ve filled up the space with a picture of the cover of Diary, the book he was touring for.

Rebecca Fitting

Random House Publishing



In “A Dose of Suburbia” [Sept. 23], we misspelled the name of the broker for the Madison Theater. Her name is Ann MacAffer, not McCaffer.

Metroland welcomes typed, double-spaced letters (computer printouts OK), addressed to the editor. Or you may e-mail them to: Metroland reserves the right to edit letters for length; 300 words is the preferred maximum. You must include your name, address and day and evening telephone numbers. We will not publish letters that cannot be verified, nor those that are illegible, irresponsible or factually inaccurate.

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