The Fight Must Continue
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Explore This IssueDecember 2019
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The E/M code win loomed large in the talk by William F. Harvey, MD, MSc, FACR, a practicing rheumatologist and clinical director of the Arthritis Treatment Center at Tufts University Medical Center, Boston. He said, “the food fight is already beginning. Surgeons and other specialists want the money back. This can be taken away from us. We need to continue the fight.
“If you ever feel like you’re just one person trying to change something, I promise, there are hundreds, thousands, if not millions of people out there who feel the same way as you, who want you to make a difference.”
Dr. Harvey echoed Dr. Worthing’s statements on the impact rheumatology advocacy can make, saying “The ACR really punches above our weight.”
From a Lupus Diagnosis to the State House
Rep. Schofield is a living example of one voice making a difference. She said that her family was always involved in church. They were always involved in community. They were always involved in improving the lives of others. Those are the values instilled in her while she was growing up. A single mother living a middle-class life, she was diagnosed with lupus in 2000.
Now in her 20th year of living with lupus, Rep. Schofield said her saga began with a visit to the optometrist because she thought she had pink eye. He asked, “When was your last physical?”
She replied, “Black people only go to the doctor when they’re sick. I’m not sick.” Three months later, she was finally diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus. “Am I going to die? Why me? What about my daughter?” and “No one in my family has had lupus” were among her initial reactions.
“I lived the American dream,” said Rep. Schofield, “and then I got sick.”
The wake-up call that she needed to get her lupus under control came one day when she fell asleep at the wheel of her car during her three-hour commute. Her doctor recommended a leave of absence from her job so she could focus on her health. While she was on leave, her boss called: “We’re going to let you go, because you don’t look sick.”
That’s not the only job she lost because she didn’t look sick. Eventually, she lost her house—and not just one house. This single mother was fighting perception and a system that didn’t allow her to get the care she needed.