life in and around NYC is insane

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Shocked and sad

Substance abuse ruins lives. I just found out about one such life shocked me to learn that someone I know and trusted ruined his life that way.

I was in the hospital delivery room. I'd just given birth to Jennifer and was feeling overwhelmed. My OB/GYN asked me if I had a pediatrician picked out. When I said "no" he told the nurse " call Dr. G".

I met Dr. G a few hours later, after he examined my baby girl and pronounced her to be "perfect". It was the beginning of a relationship that lasted 20 years.

I loved everything about Dr. G. He had a small but busy and successful practice. He and his staff really cared about his young patients and their nervous parents. He took the time to learn about his patients' lives as well as their medical conditions. He was the reassuring voice on the phone at 3 am when the kids were ill. When Becca had brochiolitis and couldn't breathe, his confidence that everything would be ok kept me sane and grounded.

I knew something about his personal life too. How he was divorced from his first wife and had two great kids. How he married his receptionist, a woman with four kids of her own - it was sad when that marriage failed.

But I never would have suspected he had a substance abuse problem.

The last time we were in his office was March 2009. Jen was a college freshman and Becca was in her junior year of high school. Jen had seen the doctor at the student health clinic for what turned out to be a very minor problem, but the doctor said some scary things and we both felt a second opinion was warranted. So we went to Dr. G.

He told me that he'd be there for my girls throughout their college years, that he treated patients until they turned 21. That he'd take their calls from school if they ever had a question or medical issue to discuss.

Two months later, seemingly out of the blue, I got a letter from Dr. G stating that he closed his practice and transferred all his records to a pediatric group practice. No explanation was given. I wondered if he was sick. I wondered if he was joining Doctors Without Borders. Lots of thoughts occurred to me, but losing his license wasn't one of them.

I didn't know, when I'd seen him in March, that he was already on a downward spiral.

So I found another doctor for the girls - not a pediatrician - and moved on.

But Dr. G's situation remained a mystery. And not knowing bothered me. So yesterday I did some Google-ing. Found a website that tells a physician's credentials, office hours, sanctions against him, etc.

In February 2008 Dr. G was given conditions to meet in order to keep his license - including enrollment in a substance abuse program. He failed a drug test in March or April 2009 - right around the time we were in his office. The State of New York suspended his license indefinitely and he voluntarily surrendered his California license, and he closed up his practice.

Ignorance is bliss. I always had the warm fuzzies when I thought about Dr. G. Now I am shocked and surprised and disillusioned and saddened. You trust your doctor with your life. You trust your pediatrician with your children's lives. I feel like that trust has been betrayed even though I can't point to anything that suggests he gave the girls substandard care.

I'm wishing I never opened Google yesterday.
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