by Nancy L. Middleton
I’ve been a maternal-child nurse for over fifteen years, and also worked in a pediatrician’s office, so often my family comes to me for advice on children’s health.
My nephew, “Bill”, his wife, “Deseray”, and their daughters went to a general practitioner doctor who didn’t believe in ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) as a legitimate diagnosis. Because my son has ADD and benefited from treatment, they asked if the doctor I work for would evaluate their older daughter’s “classic” ADD symptoms.
My boss suggested they instead see his colleague, Dr. Mike Blefeld, who specialized in ADD. They were pleased with his care for her, and Jessica was transferred to his practice. The rest of the family stayed with their first doctor.
In September 2001, Bill and Deseray were concerned about their younger daughter. Ashley’s energy level was low, she seemed pale, and one day she had a strange rash on her chest. Her parents thought she might have hives and followed telephone advice from their doctor.
Her symptoms persisted and she had a fever, so they insisted on their daughter being seen in the doctor’s office. Unfortunately, she was given only a very cursory exam, the rash wasn’t looked at and the family left the doctor’s office feeling as if they had been an annoyance to him.
Concerned about Ashley, my nephew called Dr. Blefeld and asked if he would see her even though he had only seen her sister once and Ashley wasn’t even his patient. Mike asked them to come in immediately, with no hesitation about the formalities that Ashley was not his patient, he barely knew the family, etc.
He was immediately concerned that Ashley had tiny bruises (often mistaken for a rash and known as petechiae) on her chest and an enlarged spleen. He drew blood and sent Bill to the lab with the sample for analysis.
With the results returned, he had to give the family the frightening news that Ashley had leukemia. He admitted Ashley to Yale-New Haven Hospital that very evening, and turned her over to “Dr. Joe”, a personable, well-liked pediatric hematologist.
Ashley started right in with tests and chemotherapy treatment.
When all this happened, I was off work due to a car accident. Several months later I finally returned to work at the Newborn Nursery and Labor and Delivery unit. I immediately thanked Dr. Blefeld for recognizing the need for my great-niece to be properly evaluated, and for not using the excuse that she wasn’t his responsibility because she wasn’t his patient.
Because of pressures from managed health insurance and a more litigious society, many medical practices today are run in a rigid, corporate manner. It’s heartening to know that doctors like Dr. Blefeld continue to practice medicine as an art and a science, with compassion and flexibility, and not just as a business.
Thank you, Dr. Mike! Ashley’s treatment brought her into remission, where she remains today.