New patient came in referred by a family member. He reported he had lost 30 lbs in 9 months, had no appetite, drank alcohol excessively, vomited daily and suffered from episodes of severe abdominal pain. He continued to work but he had been in the emergency room twice within the last month and a half, undergone lots of expensive tests, been stabilized and sent home. Each time he relapsed and when he came to see us for the first time, threw up in our exam room garbage can. He was uninsured, struggled with a lot of stress related to a difficult family situation and anxiety. He joined Ashewell for $99/month.
Our staff worked diligently to obtain the patient’s records from his hospitalization, hoping to keep his costs down with regard to testing. We drew labs in the office that day, which cost $7.15 and prescribed 2 medications to try and provide some immediate relief. One medication was meant to provide support while detoxing from alcohol under our supervision. We sent this to the pharmacy with a coupon and the cost was $6. The second medication was a simple acid blocker which cost $4.15 in our pharmacy for a 1 month supply.
Given the patient wished to detox at home, we monitored him over the phone encouraging him to come in as needed. These visits would all be included in his monthly fee. He started the medication, beating even our expectations. We spoke and texted several times over the next two weeks assessing him but he continued to improve and his symptoms completely stopped. We provided another prescription for $12 to keep him stable and then he returned to the office for follow-up at 2 weeks. He had gained 9 lbs in 2 weeks and felt better than he had in a long time. We repeated his labs for $7.15 to assess for change and can only hope for continued sobriety and improvement.
By no means is this patient out of the woods. Addiction is a terrible disease which is rarely banished without rearing its ugly head over and over again. Our patient likely has some long-term sequelae related to his disease, but again we will continue to help him recover his health. We will bring in other caregivers where appropriate, such as Gastroenterology and psychological support either through AA or therapy.
Addiction is a topic we need to continue to discuss. If you are suffering your doctors can help you. It all starts with a conversation. We want to help. We want to help you overcome this disease.