This is a copy of a letter recently written by someone very close to me who lives in Southern California. She sent copies to Dianne Feinstein, Barbara Boxer and David Dreier (her local Representative). If this is typical of what most Southern California applicants face when applying for Social Security relief, then the system needs to be completely overhauled. And if this was just an isolated incident, then these two doctors need to be decertified and possibly prosecuted. This is just chilling.
March 16, 2009
Dear Mr. Spencer,
I applied for Social Security benefits in January and was scheduled for two different examinations at the same medical office, OMNI Diagnostic Services in Covina, CA. I am writing today to express my concerns about the doctors who performed these examinations as well as the state of the office itself.
The first, a mental exam, was performed by Dr. Jason Yang. I believe this doctor was under the influence of drugs at the time I was in his office. One of my siblings was involved with methamphetamines some years ago, and I can easily recognize a speed freak when I see one. Dr. Yang spoke so rapidly I could barely understand him; he repeated his phrases over and over, his pupils were dilated and he behaved like a person who was "spaced out". His exam room was dirty and cold. The walls were cracked and gouged, the one picture hung lopsided, and everything looked chipped or broken. The restroom in the lobby was filthy, smelly, and completely unstocked. Nothing was done about it even after several patients complained. It was a frightening and unsettling experience.
The second, a bone and joint exam, was performed by Dr. Zaven Bilezikjian. That morning I had taken a shower, changed my bed linen, and vacuumed one small room. I was in so much pain I could barely stand it. This man was sarcastic, contemptuous, and rude. At one point, when I acted uncomfortable, he asked me what was wrong. I tried to explain that I am uneasy when being touched. He wouldn't let me finish what I was saying and, very meanly, accused me of not being in pain at all and threatened to stop the exam. He asked me when my chronic pain began, and when I told him it was about ten years ago he sarcastically said, "Oh, you've been in pain for ten years and you haven't sought treatment? Right." He walked out of the room as I was trying to tell him that I have sought treatment in the past. A Dr. Holtzapple in Eugene, Oregon told me in 2001 that I probably have fibromyalgia, but that there was no test to diagnose it. Dr. Bilezikjian wouldn't allow me to finish my sentences, didn't listen, and very obviously didn't care about what I had to say. I would think that input from the patient would be critical in such an exam, but apparently this doctor does not. He was very cold and unkind at a time when just a little warmth and patience would have gone a long way.
I called the Social Security office several times after these exams, left messages, and asked to see different doctors. My calls were never returned and my request was ignored. I just found out that I am being denied benefits.
I applied for benefits because I desperately need help; I don't feel I can work right now and I need Medi-Cal so that I can see a physician. I am afraid to leave my home by myself, I am anxious and frightened to be around people that I don't know, and I am in such constant physical pain that I cannot even keep my house clean or keep up with the laundry. My therapist of over a year has moved away and I was told by the clinic that they cannot provide me another one at this time. My psychiatrist has informed me that I can no longer receive samples of the medications she has prescribed because the clinic itself is no longer receiving samples. I cannot afford the medications and subsequently have been without for several weeks now. This does not help my state of mind in the least. After both of those "examinations" I left that clinic sobbing, feeling humiliated, violated, outraged, and near-suicidal. I wouldn't allow these doctors to examine my dead dog. Apparently they were hired to say just what SS wants them to say and never mind the real conditions of the patients.
My hope is that this letter will bring about an investigation of the clinic and the doctors that work there.