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BOTTOM LINE OR GOOD HEALTHCARE?


A Midwest oncology practice chooses patients over profits


        If you’ve ever wonde...
funding for their recommended treatments. They search for grants from various foundations,

pharmaceutical assistance prog...
oncologist available in the Swansea area, providing many patients the comfort of receiving

exceptional care from a doctor...
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Trade Magazine Article, A Midwest Oncology Practice Chooses Patients Over Profits (Hype Creative PR/IMC agency)

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Shandi Greve Penrod Writing Sample, written for a trade magazine

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Trade Magazine Article, A Midwest Oncology Practice Chooses Patients Over Profits (Hype Creative PR/IMC agency)

  1. 1. BOTTOM LINE OR GOOD HEALTHCARE? A Midwest oncology practice chooses patients over profits If you’ve ever wondered if your insurance would cover a doctor’s visit or a new procedure, you know what it’s like to be one of the millions of Americans who worry about paying for healthcare. In 2007 before the economy worsened, 15 percent of Americans had no health insurance, according to statehealthfacts.com. Another 26 percent relied on Medicare, Medicaid or other public healthcare coverage. Now more Americans are out of work, un- or under-insured and trying to figure out how to pay for visits and procedures. But at least one group of hematologists and oncologists is choosing to give patients full medical care regardless of the affect to their practice’s bottom line. Meet Doctors Shabbir Safdar, Zahid Siddiqui and Kochurani Maliekel of University Hematology Oncology, Inc. The doctors practice at a privately owned firm with four accessible locations, St. Louis; Poplar Bluff, Mo.; and the Illinois communities of Centralia and Swansea. Each location provides patients with in-house lab work, bone marrow biopsies and chemotherapy, including both simple injections and all-day infusions. UHO’s founder, Safdar, a highly qualified professor of clinical medicine at Washington University School of Medicine and attending physician at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, has been committed for more than three decades to finding solutions to make healthcare financially accessible to his patients and to help them heal. He insists each patient’s clinical needs remain in focus. “I got in the business to help people,” Safdar says, “not to dismiss people who need my skills.” Doctors Siddiqui and Maliekel share Safdar’s unwaivering dedication to patient care, as does Mr. Raza Syed, the practice administrator. Syed and the nursing staff—the employees who know the patients and their needs better than anyone—work hard to assist patients in acquiring
  2. 2. funding for their recommended treatments. They search for grants from various foundations, pharmaceutical assistance programs and private donors to ensure patients are able to get the exact treatment prescribed for them. However, the need for creative financial assistance has become more urgent since the economy began to worsen last year. “We are seeing many more people lose medical coverage due to the loss of employment,” Syed says. “We’ve also seen an increase in limited coverage as a result of patients enlisting in Medicare alternative plans that don’t end up covering what the patient was led to believe, and a rise in denials of claims due to the insured employers not making the necessary premium payments.” So much for employer-based healthcare. University Hematology Oncology, Inc. provides patients with monthly programs in addition to medical care. These programs include smoking cessation (an effort to reduce cancer rates in practice areas), The Look Good Feel Better program in conjunction with the American Cancer Society, and the more unusual financial seminars. “Whether insured or not, patients are ultimately responsible for paying for medical care costs,” Syed says. “We don’t want finances in the way of their health, but patients have to know what they may be up against. We also want to teach them how, if needed, they can take charge of their healthcare costs by creatively finding sources of financial assistance. Of course, we do what we can to find these sources, but patients find empowerment when they can take matters into their own hands. It gives them a sense of control at a time when it’s easy to despair.” Since UHO provides patients with care and guidance five days a week at four locations (St. Louis, Poplar Bluff, Centralia and Swansea) each patient has the convenience of receiving treatment in his or her area or at another office of convenience. The newest location, Swansea, Ill., is in an easy to find location. The office is equipped with automatic exam tables that lower to 18 inches to make it easier for wheelchair-bound patients to transition to the table. UHO also has the only female
  3. 3. oncologist available in the Swansea area, providing many patients the comfort of receiving exceptional care from a doctor of the same gender. Since UHO is a private firm, patients at all locations are never absorbed into big hospital systems. (Patients would only be referred to a large center if the treatments available at UHO were not appropriate). “In today’s healthcare environment, technology and treatments change all the time. So do private insurance limitations and Medicare restrictions. These frequently make providing quality healthcare a very challenging prospect,” Syed says. “But, Dr. Safdar refuses to compromise care to boost our company’s bottom line. For us at UHO, patient healing is the bottom line.” For more information on University Hematology Oncology, Inc., their services or how they can help you find financial assistance for medical care through their practice, call the main office at (618) 343-9789 or visit www.uhoncology.com. ###

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