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Update on Dr. Cecil
August 27, 2002

Hi All,

I'm sorry to report that no one has answered our pleas for help. We called on Anthony Principi and Asst. Sec Mansfield, the response was a form letter saying they didn't understand our concerns and to please write them back.  No phone number, nor email.

We were brushed off by the delay tactics we know all to well.

Please don't let this happen. Please save the lives of these vets.
Please help Dr. Cecil fight this.

This doctor is being political punished for treating vets.
If we don't stop it, will your VA doctor be next?


Help Save Dr. Cecil's Clinic
and the Lives of HCV Patients at Louisville VAMC Clinic  

In 1997, Dr. Cecil joined the staff of Veterans Administration Medical Center (VAMC) in Louisville Kentucky. At that time the VA hospital did not treat any Hepatitis C positive veterans. Dr. Cecil changed that by focusing his practice on infected patients.  As a result of customized treatment regimes, Louisville VAMC now has the highest number of patients receiving treatment within the VA system.  

In the process, Dr. Cecil became a great advocate for HCV infected veterans and military personnel. He opened his heart, and a website, for people to contact him directly with questions or concerns. He answered all his mail personally.  The website has become a pillar of information for the medical profession in general. Dr. Cecil's understanding of hepatitis c and the treatment process plus, his compassion and caring nature, has produced success rates that surpasses all VAMC clinics.

Many professionals in the medical community turn to him for guidance. One would think the Veterans Administration would consider modeling it's facilities after the Dr. Cecil's clinic. Instead, he is no longer allowed to treat his former HCV patients and all new patients will be treated by the University of Louisville.

The reason, Dr. Cecil was told he is too busy for any more patients. Dr. Cecil disputes that excuse and feels the reason is that he spends money to treat his patients. Money the VA does not want to spend.

On many occasions Dr. Cecil has issued a prescription for his patients only to have it put in a drawer by the pharmacy.  When Dr. Cecil asked why they won't fill it, the pharmacy stated they did not have the money to purchase the drugs.  

The Veterans Administration allocates up to $40,000 for treatment of each HCV patient. But the money is not allocated to the clinics for treatment. The money goes to 22 Directors of the Veterans Integrated Services Networks (VISNs.) The money is then distributed to area VAMCs.  VISN's have been under fire for some time now.

According to the General Accounting Office report released on April 25, 2000, the VA spent only one-fifth of the budgeted amount on treatment for HCV patients. The testimony in oversight suggest money earmarked for HCV is being used to save a failing health care system. The sad part is no one really knows the actual number of patients, past or present, that were treated, including the Director of the HCV program for Veterans, Dr. Deyton.    

The lack of treatment for infected patients is also the focus of study published in the Am Journal of Gastroenterology, Jan 2002. The study clearly shows the restrictions placed on VA outpatient HCV treatment programs and suggests that impact of treatment is small. Veterans had a 1.4% chance of clearing the virus while the national standards boosted a 42% clear rate.            

Although the VA states a firm commitment to provide a treatment program to deliver the highest quality care to veterans with hepatitis C, it is obvious, this is not the case.                                  

Since October, the Louisville VAMC has referred over 200 patients for outpatient treatment. Of that number, only three were given prescription to start treatment. Two patients with cirrhotic livers waited five months for an appointment only to be rescheduled two months later. Seven months without a physical exam.

VA clinics like Dr. Cecil's are held to strict guidelines and accountable if they overspend. In Dr. Cecil's case, politically punished. The VA wants money for HCV veterans but does not want to spend the money to treat them.  Dr. Cecil's battles to remain open are not new.  He has challenged the VA and the way it manages the treatment of HCV patients.

The Veterans Administration threatened him with closure last year, but granted a reprieve after Veterans and Patients rallied to stop it. Dr. Cecil was permitted to treat up to 300 patients.  Despite that promise, Dr. Cecil was told to close his doors to new and former patients at the most successful clinic in the VA system.  

Despite that promise, the budget to treat these 300 veterans was not allocated.

Despite that promise, Dr. Cecil was punished for prescribing treatment for too many veterans.  

This is NOT the highest quality of care for veterans. We want an explanation! Dr. Cecil's commitment to veterans turned around Louisville Vets survival rates. Please stand up and help us stop the political maneuver to "phase out " Dr. Cecil because he treats his patients.

The money has been allocated and we want it spent on hepatitis C patients.  Next week, May 24th, Veterans with Hepatitis C's Movement for Awareness will March on the Veterans Administration with fellow AO/Gulf War veterans to demand the broken promises and white wash of veterans health care be stopped. We will call upon Anthony Principi to explain to HCV Veterans:

Why veterans now receive second rate medical care.

Why there was not enough money
in the Louisville clinic for the medications.

Why Dr. Cecil was punished instead of rewarded.

Please sign the petition.

Help Save Dr. Cecil's Clinic
and the Lives of HCV Patients at Louisville VAMC!

Hepatitis C's Movement for Awareness

I thought this was very clear
and deserved a response from the Veterans Administration.
They chose to ignore it.

To follow is an update by Dr. Cecil's on his attempts to remain open.

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