Penn State Hershey Medical Center dropped more than 2,000 patients from its neurology department. Two doctors retired, and two left for other jobs. Now, Midstate residents with multiple sclerosis are desperate for help.
Ken and Stefanie Price have been together since they were teenagers.
“He can find his favorite martins potato chips, his favorite Cadubury chocolate and coca cola, but he can never find me,” Stefanie Price joked about her husband Ken.
The couple from Mechanicsburg laughs off daily challenges, but is actually going through the most difficult time in their lives.
The dad of three has dementia, multiple sclerosis and muscular dystrophy.
“We just are crying out for help,” said Ken. “Definitely feeling abandonment.”
This week, Penn State Hershey Medical Center sent a letter to 2,100 patients, saying it couldn’t care for them anymore. One of them was Ken, and he hasn’t been able to find a new doctor.
“They usually take the Medicare, but they don’t take the Medicaid,” said Stefanie Price.
The hospital is working to find replacements.
Another patient Janet Benham called the neurology department Friday.
“Her comment to me was what would you have liked the letter to have said? It was run past numerous departments,” Benham said.
The Camp Hill resident says when her doctor announced she was leaving in the fall, the hospital said it would still be able to treat her.
Benham said, “They themselves should have reached out to different hospitals or organizations and said we’re having this problem, would you be willing to help us?”
Penn State Health sent us a statement, saying in part, “We are encountering many of the same challenges being seen by health systems nationwide – namely, a shortage of sub-specialists trained and ready to treat this complex illness.”
Meanwhile, patients don’t know where they will find care or get medicine.
“It took a long time to find someone we trust with him, and now we don’t have that, and his condition is very serious,” said Brieanna Price, Ken Price’s daughter. “Just a little bit of time means everything.”
The hospital admits: it missed the mark with the letter it sent out telling patients to transfer their care. A representative says workers will be in touch with patients in the near future to help them through their transitions.