It’s taken me awhile to share this, because of a.) extreme fatigue, b.) my 3-second attention span, and c.) refer back to a and b.
About a week ago, I had a truly meaningful telephone conversation with Claudia Valerio, who is Dr. Costantino’s practice manager. I called the office to schedule a new patient consultation, and when Claudia learned that it was me on the phone with the medical scheduler, I was immediately transferred to her line. The person who I was initially speaking to stated that I would have to travel to White Plains for the appointment, because Dr. Costantino doesn’t do virtual appointments. After being transferred to Claudia, she told me that I absolutely could schedule a telehealth appointment and added that I wouldn’t be made to travel across state and back for a consultation. Of course not!
Claudia scheduled me on July 20, apologizing profusely for not being able to schedule me sooner. She said Dr. Costantino had limited his hours for the month of June. In addition, the office is in the process of moving. Don’t ask me where, because I didn’t think to ask in the moment. I was busy taking in how patient-centered the experience was, something I’m not accustomed to. So, apart from scheduling the consult - $350 - we discussed the matter of insurance. Dr. Costantino doesn’t accept my insurance, but Claudia indicated if out-of-network care is authorized, the office will work with my insurance provider to negotiate a reasonable fee for services.
Before the call concluded, we talked about doctors in the northeast, who are providing care to the ES community. Claudia knew every physician I named in New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. She didn’t have anything negative to say about any of them. Rather, it became evident that the doctors know of and respect each other, because there are so few of them who actually have the experience to properly diagnose and treat ES. She said the stories heard from patients in the office are devastating and asked if I had any thoughts about how Dr. Costantino can reach more patients. I told Claudia that he is frequently mentioned in this forum and gave her the name. She said he was considering creating a blog or something along that line to create more awareness about ES. I directed her to some of the videos online by other providers like Dr. Osborne and suggested that maybe he might think about doing likewise.
All in all, I had a 40-minute conversation with Claudia that was entirely unexpected, but thoroughly appreciated. The following week my insurance denied my doctor’s referral for out-of-network authorization stating I could receive the same care in-network. Ha! If that were truly the case, I likely wouldn’t be in the position that I am now. And by the way, who in their right mind wants to travel away from home for major surgery if they absolutely don’t have to? Anyway, the appeal process has been initiated, so now I’m doing what I’ve done for years, waiting. But at least, I’ve got a consult scheduled with Dr. Costantino in July with the help of Claudia.