Customer Service Has Disappeared

I write a quarterly newsletter with timely health and medical tips and mail it out to my patients. I have been doing this for 25 years now.

The content is edited by a professional and then the final copy is printed by a firm in Richmond, Virginia and mailed to the patients using first class postage. The addresses come from our office demographics of our existing patients and then those addresses are double checked by the printer using a US Postal Service address data base.

We mailed the summer newsletter from Richmond the third week in June. The last week in June almost 275 of the newsletters arrived back in our office in Boca Raton with a sticker on it saying the mail was “undeliverable addressee unknown.”   We double checked the addresses on all the returned pieces of mail then took them to the Banyan Road branch of the post office. I was told they were not delivered because the addresses were incorrect. I told them the addresses were triple checked and are correct. They told me to see their delivery department across the road, but that office was closed by 4:00 p.m.

The next day my office supervisor took the newsletters to the Delivery Division of the Boca Rio Road Post Office. She was treated brusquely and rudely – being told that the addresses were wrong. She protested and was finally told by the supervisor to remove the undeliverable labels and drop them back in the mail. The next day we dropped them back in the mail, as directed, sending them from three different post offices in the Boca Raton area. Some were delivered but 75 were returned saying they were “undeliverable addressee unknown”. We called those patients to double check the addresses and they were all correct.

I accessed the USPS customer service complaint line and a sympathetic gentleman took the information, provided me with a case number and to date nothing has been done. After two weeks I made a second inquiry and have received no answer.

I then wrote to my Congressman’s Washington office for help. I have heard nothing back. On the same day that I tried to contact my Congressman, I stopped by my local pharmacy to pick up a script for my wife called in by her physician. I used the drive through window. They asked for my driver’s license for ID and I sent it in. They never returned it and I just did not notice that until three days later when I noticed it missing from my wallet.

I retraced my steps and called the pharmacy.  I have been a customer there for 40 years and, as a physician, have sent thousands of prescriptions to them throughout that time.

“Yes”, they had my license and would gladly return it if I stopped by. I recovered my license later that day but wondered why no one from the store bothered to call my home or office to let me know they had my license? These are the same people who tell my patients I never called in their prescription when, in fact, the prescription was called-in hours ago but they have not yet listened to the messages on their system that they direct prescribers to use when phoning in prescriptions.

As the world churns through wars, political and cultural division, and ecologic weather disasters; it seems common decency and going the extra step for the public has disappeared making an already difficult life even more so.

Flu Vaccination May Guard Against Alzheimer’s Dementia

While it is early summer here in North America, most primary care practices have already ordered their influenza vaccine for the fall of 2022. Our practice will be using the “senior” high dose quadrivalent vaccine for patients 65 years of age and older as recommended by the ACIP (American College of Immunization Practices), a division of the CDC.

While experts debate when to administer the vaccine, we prefer to do it between Halloween and Thanksgiving based on when influenza arrives in South Florida and the limited length of protection seniors get from the vaccine. Flu shots can protect against serious infection and hospitalization in most cases.

Avram Bukhbinder, MD, of the University of Texas Medical Center in Houston believes the vaccine also protects seniors against Alzheimer’s disease. His work was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease recently.

His group looked at almost one million influenza vaccinated adults and compared them over time with a similar sized unvaccinated group of senior citizens 65 years of age or older. The median age was 73.7 years and 57% were women. All were free of dementia over the six year “look back period”.

They followed these groups for 46 months and found the risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease was 40% lower in the vaccinated group. The paper did not determine why the flu vaccine lowered the risk of developing Alzheimer’s dementia. Dr. Bukhbinder hypothesized that the vaccine may have prevented severe inflammation seen with infection reducing the development of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. An official with the Alzheimer’s Association was quick to point out that possibly those who took flu shots were more health conscious leading to less development of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Further research is warranted but this study provides an additional incentive to obtain your flu shot this fall.

Over-the-Counter Bentrio Approved for Allergic Rhinitis

With the warmer weather and outdoor activities comes more exposure to nasal allergy symptoms. This week the FDA approved an over-the-counter nasal barrier spray to combat inhaled nasal allergies. Called Bentrio, it sprays a clay mineral bentonite which is drug-free, preservative free and forms a thin protective gel layer on the nasal mucosa to prevent contact of allergens with nasal cells. If allergens encounter nasal cells, they begin a chain reaction release of chemicals which can trigger an ongoing allergic reaction for up to 14 days.

The product’s mineral bentonite coating was compared to an existing product using hydroxypropyl methylcellulose in protecting against allergic symptoms after exposure to a known pollen. The Bentrio provided similar relief over a four-hour period. Expect to see this product on the counters of US stores this coming fall.