Cape Cod's hypocritical Hippocratic oaths

If you are on Medicare, forget about checking for skin cancer on The Cape
So much for the Cape Cod's acclaimed medical services

The Hippocratic Oath
First: Do no harm.
I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:
I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.
I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures [that] are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.
I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon's knife or the chemist's drug.
I will not be ashamed to say "I know not," nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient's recovery.
I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.
I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person's family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.
I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.
I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.
If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.
Image: A 12th-century Byzantine manuscript of the Oath, rendered in the form of a cross.

By Walter Brooks

I moved to Cape Cod in 1965 when the county population was under 100,000, less than half of today's 227,000.

I didn't have a problem finding a dermatologist locally back then.

And decades later when Dr. Brinkerhoff retired, I found a replacement within two miles of my home at the Fontaine Medical Center at Exit 11 in East Harwich.

That doctor stopped coming to the Cape a couple days a week recently.

Today there is not a single dermatologist on Cape Cod who will accept Medicare patients.

In fact, there is only one dermatologist in Barnstable County who accepts any new patients, but not if they are on Medicare.

Plymouth to the rescue

I have had suspected skin cancer removed from my face a couple times, as have countless Baby-Boomers who once slathered their faces with banana oil and laid in the sun for hours before the medical profession warned us about that foolishness.

I finally found a dermatologist who accepts Medicare patients, but it's a 90-mile round trip for me to Plymouth. Doctor Emily Tierney at the South Shore Skin Center and Spa is one of Massachusetts' most progressive Dermatology practices. She is a professor at Tufts and teaches residents in dermatology. Her pratice is across from the mall at Exit 6 at One Scobee Circle, Plymouth.

Dr. Tierney says she could not in good conscience turn away any person who needed medical help.

I live at the Cape's elbow. Patients on the Lower Cape must now travel over 150 miles round-trip to that same doctor.

Imagine your aged mother or aunt making that kind of trip for basic health care.

Otherwise any sensible person on Medicare who cares about their health must be prepared to pay cash for this 10-minute examination.

This criticism is specific to Dermatologists. I have had a world-class Internist for forty years who is not just a caring physician, he even helped start the Hospice system here decades ago. And I hope every doctor here and elsewhere makes a good living if they serve their patients as mine does, but the present availability for skin doctors here should be addressed immediately by Cape Health Care.

I heard Cape Cod Healthcare's new Cape Cod Healthcare. CEO Michael Lauf on WXTK said "we take our role in the Cape's health care very seriously... and 60 percent of all our patients are over 65 and on Medicare..."

If Mr. Lauf isn't dissembling, I hope he reads this and takes it upon himself to help the Cape Codder who need a dermatologist and who are on Medicare find one before any die of skin cancer.

You may rest assured we will stay on this until he or someone else does.

I guess $300,000 a year isn't enough for these hypocrites

Part of the modern version on right of the oath physicians take states,

\I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.

"I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm."

I guess they left out the part that says "Except I can't make a lot more money than Medicare gives me."

The average income for an American dermatologist is just under $300,000 a year.

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