Goodbye Dr. Hahn

In mid-May Liz and I received some startling news. In a casual email correspondence with Dr. Hahn’s assistant, we were informed that Dr. Hahn is retiring at the end of June. There was no official notice, and no suggested referrals to other doctors. It was just a simple FYI embedded within the body of a routine email.

What?! Oh my gawd! This surely cannot be. This is the doctor that saved my life—the doctor that recognized my odd constellation of symptoms and implemented an aggressive and pre-emptive treatment plan when no one else was willing to act. She’s the chief of rheumatology at UCLA, and co-authored Dubois’ Lupus Erythematosus, which is considered the definitive reference on lupus for the past forty years. She’s the expert that I fought so hard to get, and now I’m losing her.

This news dropped like a major bomb on Liz and I, especially now when I’ve been facing additional and perplexing complications that even Dr. Hahn is struggling to manage. Both of our minds incessantly whirred with desperate and unanswerable questions.

“What will this mean for the future of my healthcare? What doctor will I see, and will this person be qualified to manage my case? Will I die, or greatly deteriorate in the absence of such an expert level of medical care?”

It was clear that we were on our own with this one. Even though UCLA is ranked as number five in a list of the nation’s best hospitals, the system is seriously overburdened, and simple administrative tasks can frequently be completely overlooked. And this situation was no exception. One would think that I would be provided with a list of suggested doctors to manage my case, and/or instructions on how to transfer my care to another medical professional, but noooo, we were just left to flail in a whirlwind of confusion and worry.

Lately, I’ve been so physically weak that just the thought of conducting a thorough background search on the list of prospective UCLA rheumatologists was absolutely overwhelming. I’m so fortunate and grateful for Liz, for without her, I’d seriously be a goner these days. Even though she’s already pushed to the max—managing our business and household, coordinating my healthcare and acting as a full-time caregiver—she somehow still mustered up the energy and the will to find the right doctor to ensure that I will receive the best in medical care. After days of internet research and phone inquiries, she/we decided that Dr. Jennifer Grossman would most likely make the best match.

Yesterday was my last visit with Dr. Hahn. She agreed that Dr. Grossman would indeed be a great match for me. And even though Dr. Hahn is retiring from her clinical practice, she will still be teaching twice weekly and continue to conduct cutting-edge lupus research at UCLA. And, we were very glad to learn that she is working side-by-side with Dr. Grossman on current research projects. So, it seems as though Dr. Hahn might still be available for additional medical consult if need be.

June 11 is my first appointment with Dr. Grossman. At this point, both Liz and I are hopeful and optimistic about the shift. Who knows, perhaps a fresh perspective will shed additional light on my case. I’ll keep you posted.

2 Responses to “Goodbye Dr. Hahn”
  1. Judith says:

    Well as you know this news about Dr. Hahn “Sux” too… 😦 It is a big loss to you, the other patients and us. We know how you felt when you heard the tremendous news. We felt it too. This is very unfortunately for everybody. The good news is, her replacement is going to be consulting with Dr. Hahn, so not all is lost. You also got great report for the doctor who is taking her place from the “lions’s mouth” ha,ha…This new doctor that you already met seems to you, Liz, and I (I think I met her once) very nice. So there is always hope!! Hung tough and keep the faith. God will take of everything. Love-U

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