Penn State Health apologizes to MS patients following letter that advised them to seek alternate care

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Penn State Health issued a letter of apology Monday to 2,100 patients of the neurology practice at Hershey Medical Center after a previous letter, sent on April 17, advised them to seek alternate care for their multiple sclerosis (MS).

The initial letter cited the departure of four MS neurology providers — two to retirement and two others to positions at organizations outside the region, according to the Penn State Health news release.

The new letter reassures patients that they will be cared for despite the staffing challenges.

A portion of it reads, “We should have assured you that despite these staffing challenges, our practice remains open to you–whether you area an MS patient or are being seen for some neurological concern. Our staff is committed to working with you and your family to make sure your care needs are met. In our haste to get you this information about the care we provide to you, we neglected our larger role of caring for you. For that, we want to say we are sorry. And we want to tell you what we are doing to make it right.”

Penn State Health notes that the provider shortage is only affecting its MS neurology service and not any other neurological or neurosurgical programs.

In the short term, Penn State Health has organized a team to help MS patients with needs such as medication monitoring and management, related lab or imaging tests and urgent appointments, the release states.

The health system’s long-term goal is to rebuild the neurology service’s capacity to continue as a primary caregiver for all patients seeking MS care.

“This will take time, but the department is focused on a priority of future case ,” Penn State Health concludes in the release.

The MS neurology service has established a dedicated team of staff and providers to answer patient questions, schedule any needed appointments or help get MS medication refills ordered. Patients may call the MS Care Line at 717-531-3828 Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., and select # to be directed to an MS care coordinator.

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