Many patients cross our path, but some stick with us. David J. Alvarez, D.O., assistant professor, recently saw one of those patients who had a big impact on him.
The 59-year-old man was a new patient and Dr. Alvarez quickly discovered that he had not received a health maintenance exam in many years. He was newly insured through the Affordable Care Act after not being insured for years.
During his physical Dr. Alvarez learned that the man had experienced burning in his chest while at work and his health maintenance exam was cut short as he was sent directly to the hospital. There, he underwent a re-vascularization procedure that saved his life.
In a follow up with the man, Dr. Alvarez scheduled an appointment to continue his shortened exam. In this second visit, Dr. Alvarez once again provided life-saving care when a test he ordered eventually lead to a diagnosis of early stage prostate cancer. The successful treatment of his patient’s heart condition and prostate cancer – both discovered through a routine physical exam – left Dr. Alvarez inspired. He credited the Affordable Care Act with saving this man’s life.
Dr. Alvarez reached out to share this story and he went straight to the top. In an email to President Barack Obama, Dr. Alvarez shared this man’s story. He noted, “I just wanted to take a moment and thank you for your service and policies that have contributed so much to health care in our country. I wanted to share just one story of how your Affordable Care Act worked for one of my family medicine patients here at the University of Michigan… This man is alive today enjoying his family because he was able to finally afford to receive the health care that everyone should have access to.”
A month later, while riding in the car with his son, Dr. Alvarez was surprised to hear him say, “Dad, you have a letter from the White House.” They were both excited to find a reply direct from President Obama himself. “Thank you for writing. Your story speaks to the reason I fought so hard for the Affordable Care Act in the first place, and your reflections on the progress we’ve made together mean a lot to me,” the President noted. (Read the full letter here).
It was exciting being able to reach the President, Dr. Alvarez thought. “My message to him is only one example of how the Affordable Care Act has helped many of my patients in receiving health care coverage. It is important for us in primary care to be advocates for quality health care for everyone,” he said.
Dr. Alvarez remained in communications with White House staff to further promote this story of life saving care made possible by affordable health insurance. At their urging, he is currently working with several organizations to further promote this story.
He adds, “If my colleagues have similar stories, they would be welcome. Please email Dr. Alvarez or Kristen Ochomogo for contact information.