Doctors Who Go the Extra Mile: Patients wonder when he sleeps

August 6, 2001

Tadeusz J. Majchrzak

 

Doctors Who Go The Extra Mile

Tadeusz J. Majchrzak, MD
Patients wonder when he sleeps

When the large medical group that employed FP Tadeusz J. Majchrzak disbanded this year, he started a solo practice. Literally overnight, his Jersey City, NJ, office was bustling—filled with the patients from his previous practice.

The first day he opened Vita-Med Family Practice, Majchrzak (pronounced My-shak) saw almost 40 patients. That says a lot for a physician who didn't begin practicing in the US until 1993, three years after he left his ob/gyn practice in Warsaw.

What accounts for the loyalty?

"He goes far beyond the typical doctor to make sure you're taken care of," says patient Nuno Silva. Silva has been coming to Majchrzak since he was 13, when he contracted a stubborn infection following surgery. Several doctors couldn't help him, but Majchrzak "knew what it was right away," Silva says. "He gave me one shot—and the infection was gone."

It's not just his acumen that wins praise; Majchrzak extends himself in so many ways that his patients say they don't know when he sleeps. During routine visits, for instance, he takes the time to explain things thoroughly. His desk is cluttered with anatomical models and other gadgets to help patients understand their conditions.

"Even when he's not the treating physician, he sits you down and gives you all the details," says patient Theresa Kolodziej. "When an oncologist suggested a treatment for my mother, who has a brain tumor, Dr. Majchrzak read the literature and watched the video the specialist gave us, and did his own research. Then he explained why this was good for my mom."

He often gives patients his beeper number—especially those who speak only Polish, his native tongue, and have no one else to turn to. (Majchrzak couldn't speak English when he first came to America, either.) During the holidays, he delivers food to homebound patients. He makes regular informal visits to lonely patients who no longer have family.

And he makes house calls—typically seven to eight each week—on nights and weekends. Usually these are to his elderly patients, but not always. Theresa Kolodziej remembers how he "came over right away" the time she fell down the stairs. He wanted to make sure she wouldn't injure her back further if she moved.

"Although the home visits are time consuming, this is the future of our practice," says Majchrzak. "More and more people have difficulty even affording transportation. I think it's time that old-fashioned medicine return to the American market."

Majchrzak expresses considerable frustration with managed care, but that hasn't dampened his determination to go to bat for patients whenever necessary. Nuno Silva's mother, also a patient, has a morphine pump to treat her chronic pain, but it wasn't working properly. "Dr. Majchrzak battled the insurer to pay for a surgeon to repair it," Silva says. "He wrote a lot of letters and spent many hours on the phone explaining why the pump is a medical necessity. And he won."

And if the letters hadn't succeeded? "When I am desperate, I know I can call on patients who work at Channel 9 [a local news station]," says Majchrzak. "So if I am waiting 40 minutes for the medical director to call me back, I tell his secretary, 'If I do not hear from him tomorrow, in two days you will be on Channel 9.' He calls back in 10 minutes.

  —Deborah A. Grandinetti

The author is a former Senior Editor of Medical Economics.

 

Deborah Grandinetti. Doctors Who Go the Extra Mile: Patients wonder when he sleeps. Medical Economics 2001;15:55.

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