Service Spotlight: Doc’s commitment to patient ‘priceless’

October 11, 2017  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees,

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Frequently, Michigan Medicine receives letters, emails and other feedback from patients and family members showing their appreciation for the world-class services offered by faculty and staff.

One recent letter from Michael Szekely praised the diligence and commitment of Dinesh Khanna, M.D., M.Sc., in the treatment of Michael’s wife, Cathy.

Here is what Michael shared about Khanna, the director of the scleroderma program at Michigan Medicine:

“Dr. Dinesh Khanna has gone beyond the call of duty for my wife in order to obtain the drug she needed through our health insurance coverage. Dr. Khanna never stopped working every avenue he could think of and would never take ‘no’ for an answer.

I am probably telling you something you already know about the doctor. I have personally witnessed how he interacts with my wife and how he follows up on her issues and the issues of those around him … I am forever thankful for Dr. Khanna and his team in how they have helped Cathy.”

Many of Khanna’s patients, including Cathy, have sclerodoma, a condition that causes hardening of the skin and connective tissues. The condition affects approximately 300,000 people in the U.S. — about a third of whom have the systemic form that can affect the heart, lungs, gut and kidneys. Cathy’s systemic form affects her heart and lungs.

While there are no FDA-approved treatments for the disease, medication being tested through clinical trials to alleviate symptoms can cost more than $60,000 per year — a prohibitive amount for many patients if not covered by insurance.

When Cathy’s insurance initially declined to cover that cost, Khanna worked with the insurance provider to ensure the Szekelys got the financial support they needed, staying in constant communication with the family throughout the process.

“I have seen visible relief in Cathy since she came to Michigan Medicine,” Michael said. “And it’s all because Dr. Khanna and other physicians and staff members worked tirelessly to help her.”

While the clinical trial progresses, Khanna and his colleagues are also carrying out potential life-changing research to find long-term treatments for scleroderma.

“We recognize that our patients suffer a great deal from this condition,” Khanna said. “That’s why our clinic — which is one of the largest clinical and research programs for scleroderma in the world — is working hard to translate our findings from bench to bedside to create new therapies that we hope will be available to use sometime in the near future.”

Khanna’s diligence is felt not only by patients, but by staff members as well.

“Dr. Khanna is very passionate about what he does and is a great teacher,” said Monica Sanborn, a research coordinator on his team. “He is always eager to teach new staff members, physicians and fellows how to provide the best care and service to patients.”

From following up and staying in touch with those he serves long after they have visited the clinic, to his commitment to training the next generation of health care experts, Khanna’s passion exemplifies the dedication of Michigan Medicine’s faculty and staff.

“We are all committed to finding effective treatments and helping our patients in the best ways we can,” Khanna said. “Whether it’s performing research in a lab, working hard to get them the necessary medication or simply being somebody for them to talk to, we can all make a difference in a patient’s life.”

If you want to recognize a faculty or staff member for their efforts, send an email to patient-experience@med.umich.edu.

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