Taking back our health care

On March 1st, 2017, our small-town doc lost his Medicaid contract. He was given a few days notice (over a weekend), and his patients are still reeling from having the rug pulled out from under them. I should know, because he’s my doctor, too. (Read the story here.)


Dr. Camarata modeling some of the used medical equipment he loans for free

The Columbine Family Health Clinic was given 30 days to appeal the decision, which they are preparing with a petition, and letters of support from community members. Taking back our health care is as simple as writing a letter, signing a petition, and making a phone call. But you must be proactive. Don’t be intimidated by the medical establishment, make your voice heard. Your health is at stake. Here’s my letter that I just e-mailed to columbinefamily@gmail.com, which will be included with their appeal, and hundreds of other letters from our rural, mountain communities.

To Whom It May Concern,

I am a mom, a wife and the Executive Director of The Holistic Homestead, a health and wellness nonprofit serving the greater Nederland area. I am also a patient of Dr. Camarata’s, and a recipient of Medicaid.
My son was born 3 1/2 years ago with a serious medical condition that required surgery. When he was very little, we didn’t have a car to drive to the city for his follow-up appointments. We were so grateful to have the services of Dr. Camarata available to us. Dr. Camarata carefully followed my son’s progress, and read every report that came in on his condition.
Two years ago, I dislocated my shoulder and went in to Columbine Family Health for an assessment, and Dr. Camarata got me a referral for testing and PT to rehabilitate my shoulder. He even sent me home with a brand new shoulder sling, which he bought out of pocket. He keeps durable medical equipment available to all his patients, because he is aware of the challenges in going “down the hill” for medical services and supplies – so why not make it available to his patients who need things like slings, crutches, and walking boots right now?
Last fall, my husband cut his thumb open on a table saw. Dr. Camarata was a 15 minute drive for us, while if we had to go to the nearest ED, we would have to drive at least 30 minutes. In medical emergencies, time is of the essence. Dr. Camarata saw my husband immediately – without an appointment – 1 hour and 16 stitches later, we were going home. My husband still has a functional thumb because of Dr. Camarata’s attentive care.
The loss of Medicaid coverage for Dr. Camarata is devastating to my family, to over 1500 people in our community, and to the morale of the 10,000 people who live, isolated, far from any other medical services, scattered throughout the mountains in tiny rural communities in the Colorado Rockies. This also affects the patients who don’t live in the mountains full-time, but come to our community for winter skiing and summer hiking, and require emergency medical care.
Dr. Camarata fills a huge gap in medical services for a large population – and now, without being able to serve his Medicaid patients, he faces the prospect of closing his clinic doors. The decision to revoke his contract was arbitrary and did not consider the real, human impact that losing coverage would have on our community.
I implore you to reinstate his Medicaid coverage just as quickly as it was revoked, and to force the party responsible for revoking the coverage to pay damages – which can never make up for the disheartened patients needlessly exposed to greater health risks. Losing health coverage for our community is not simply a matter of “choosing” to drive an extra 30 or 40 minutes to a different clinic in Boulder, Golden, or Estes Park. It is unequivocally a matter of life and death.
Arwen Ek

2 Comments on “Taking back our health care

  1. Very well said, Arwen! Keep up the terrific work.

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