February 7, 2011

Dear Friends:

As many of you know, every year I write a letter to the patients of our practice.

There are several purposes to this letter. One is to inform everyone about the goings on at Treasure Coast Dermatology and another is to announce the date and time of our annual. party.

Our party gives us the opportunity to thank patients and friends alike for the trust they have put in us. Too many times we take those around us for granted. This party is our way to show you how honored we feel to be part of your lives.

Since our last letter, as many of you know, Dr. Sanders has gotten married. Last year, I wrote about the engagement, and yup, he did it!
He married Niki Hart, now Niki Sanders, on March 20th 2010.

My wife Cammy and I have known Niki for some time, and we are thrilled and gratified to see our two good friends happy together as husband and wife.

Cammy and I (and our four dogs) are doing well. We just celebrated our 4111 anniversary, and we hope to expand our family this year. Please keep your fingers crossed and your prayers coming. We appreciate them all.

I have spoken out in the past about the cost of medications and problems that many of our patients have in paying for them. One part of this problem has been the aggressive marketing practices of the drug companies themselves.

Pharmaceutical representatives have, for years, offered gifts and financial inducements to physicians in order to encourage the use of higher margin drugs.

Whether or not you believe these gifts will influence what medications your doctor prescribes is up to you, but we have never knowingly taken these offerings from drug companies. Our employees don’t even accept their pens. Dr. Sanders and I feel that it is payola.

These giant pharmaceutical corporations are not spending millions of dollars on these types of gifts without a concrete return. Unfortunately, we feel, you the patients are paying.

I frowned on this form of marketing even before I opened my own practice. During my first week out on my own, a drug representative arrived with lunch, unannounced and uninvited. I thanked her, but I did not accept the lunch.

She was upset. She reminded me that it wasn’t going to cost me anything but the time it would take to have lunch. Again, I declined. She then said this, “you’re a doctor, and you earn enough for your lunch; maybe your employees would like a good, free meal every now and then.”

This statement struck a chord with me. She was right. The people who worked with me did deserve a good meal, and yes, I knew their budgets were sometimes stretched.

So I decided right then and there that I would buy my employees lunch from my own pocket. And I have … everyday for the past twelve years. Dr. Sanders does the same. Usually, our staff picks the menu, but sometimes they let us indulge our taste for junk food.

What this episode made me realize early on is this: Sometimes a rule, even if it seems morally and ethically right, can hurt the people around us. We should realize that and always think of the welfare of others while at the same time doing our own personal best.

Dr. Sanders and I are thankful that many medical societies have come out and said that they too feel accepting these gifts is inappropriate. Some states even have registries that are keeping track of gifts and payments such as these.

We, at Treasure Coast Dermatology, applaud this openness.

Also concerning us is the continued growth of the many new Medicare plans. We would like to say again, in order make aninformed decision, please investigate how these health plans work and how they differ, then decide which option is best for you.

Under the original Medicare plan, you can use whichever specialists and hospitals you choose, whenever you need, and without a referral from another doctor. Medicare private plan options could limit your ability to get care from the doctor or hospital of your choice, or there may be extra charges for out-of-network care.

In the recent financial collapse, many in our community have seen their savings and pensions wiped out. Now, vulnerable financially and often with difficult health problems., they are being forced to make tough decisions about their health plans.

With so many plans to choose from, it is easy to become overwhelmed. Please be careful. Many of these companies want to give you the cheapest care, not the best.

In closing, we are happy to report that the first firefighters have graduated from the Fire Science & Technology facility at IRSC’s Treasure Coast Public Safety Training Complex. These firefighters arc helping keep our community, as well as the communities around us, safe.

On September 11th, 2009, Dr. Sanders and I had the opportunity to dedicate this facility to Dr. Sanders• uncle, Robert Burroughs. The facility is now called the Robert H. Burroughs Fire Station and Training Center.

We hope that many of you got to meet Rob at last year’s party. He has been an inspiration to me for many years. Hopefully, he can make it again this year.

Lastly, I ask for your prayers for those soldiers fighting for our country. As many of our patients who are veterans know, these men and women have sacrificed and will continue to sacrifice in order to protect our great nation. Please keep them in your thoughts.

Thank you for your trust,

Tim Ioannides, M.D.