2 September 2005
Office of Inspector General
1111 20th Street NW
RE: Donald J. Weaks xxx-xx-
To Whom It May Concern:
I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Cote d'Ivoire and Togo from 12 June
2002 to 7 May 2005.
On 7 May I was medically separated in Washington, DC after being
medevac'd from Togo on 17 April 2005. The attached letter to the
Office of Medical Services dated 7 August 2005 addresses the time
line and issues involved in my current medical situation.
My primary reason for writing your office is because of the absence
of a response to that letter. It has been four months since I was
medically separated and I still have undiagnosed and unresolved
medical issues. Among some of the unanswered diagnostic issues is a
127C that I requested on 7 August 2005 for a follow-up CAT Scan that
was recommended after nodules were identified in my lungs; that 127C
has never been issued.
I have the following additional examples of patient disregard,
harassment, case mismanagement and just plain incompetence by the
Office of Medical Services:
Evaluation of Nodules on Lungs: The 127C issued to the infectious
disease doctor provided for a diagnosis and treatment plan without
any provision for testing. The doctor found this authorization for
treatment so vague he thought it was joke.
Phlebotomy treatments: As a result of some of my testing a doctor
diagnosed me with hemochromatosis. This is a potentially deadly iron
overload of the circulation system, especially if left untreated. I
decided to begin treatments before the OMS submitted the paperwork to
the Department of Labor for a workers' compensation claim. I did this
for two reasons; one, I had been told by the OMS that IF my claim was
approved it might take 8 to 10 weeks to do so. Secondly, because I
saw no reason to delay the treatment if it is in fact life
threatening. The day after I began the treatments I received a
surprise phone call from the OMS chastising me for starting the
treatments without prior approval. It appears that the Department of
Labor is going to deny my claim. I have attached a copy of their
letter and my response.
Emergency Room visit 1 July: I experienced tightness in my chest and
shortness of breath, a symptom of hemochromatosis and a possible
indication that I was having hypertensive problems. My doctor
directed me to go to the ER as quickly as possible. I called the OMS
for approval and got an answering machine. I left a message and went
to the hospital; later in the day I was told I should not have gone
to the emergency room without permission. It took nearly three weeks
to get the 127C issued for the hospital visit.
Hospital and Specialist Bills: I made two trips to Deaconess Hospital
in Cincinnati on 31 May and 23 June 2005 for hypertension and
gastroenterology testing. Both times doctors, laboratories,
specialist and the hospital were involved in supplying services for
these tests and they billed for their services separately. So far
there has been 3 occasions the bills were returned unpaid because the
particular provider did not have a copy of the 127C attached to their
bill. It is obvious that these services rendered on the same day for
the same testing procedure should have been covered by the single
127C which I was provided.
Close of Service Dental Evaluation: The Health Benefit Program has
requested additional information 2 times. I am certain that the
request for information was satisfied after the first request.
The Regional Peace Corps Medical Officer, Dr. Patricia Ruze, who
medevac'd me to Washington is still questioning why no one has
pursued the renal failure problems I was encountering in April. It's
conceivable that all of my conditions are the result of a viral or
bacterial infection that I contracted early in March 2005.
I am sick and I am not getting appropriate and reasonable medical
attention. I am sure there is an argument to be made that volunteers
and former volunteers are ultimately responsible for their own health
care and course of treatment but at the same time some of our health
issues are a result of our Peace Corps service overseas and it is
unfair to ask doctors in the US who are unfamiliar with that
experience to make life and death evaluation regarding our health.
I have attached a note from David Snyder the Executive Director of
the American Hemochromatosis Society making reference to the
Executive Order issued by President Clinton disallowing any federal
agency the ability to discriminate against federal employees that
have genetic disorders. I think this situation is worthy of your
attention and I am willing to allow you to use this information in
conjunction with other complaints that you have received regarding
the practices of the Office of Medical Service.
In conclusion, I still believe in the role the Peace Corps
can play in the world today. I am a firm believer that older
volunteers can play a part in that role; but if this is an example of
how the Peace Corps treats those older volunteers in return for their
efforts, then I have completely lost faith in the Peace Corps and the
United States government to look after its own who are willing to go
the extra mile and make an effort to better our world.
Donald J. Weaks
5 Bluebill Avenue #604
Naples, FL 34018