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Q&A on new alliance for MIT Medical Dept.

As Tech Talk reported in September, the MIT Medical Department will begin shifting its main hospital affiliation from Mt. Auburn Hospital to Partners HealthCare Systems Inc.--the Mass. General and the Brigham--on January 1, 1996. As expected, MIT Health Plans members and Medical Department patients have questions about the switch. Mary P. Smith, senior manager for the MIT Health Plans and Finance, answers some of those questions here.

The annual open enrollment period for MIT benefit programs--including the MIT Health Plans--continues through Monday, Nov. 13. Anyone with questions not answered below may call Ms. Smith at x3-1322. "We want to make it clear that the only thing that's changing on January 1 is our hospital affiliation, and that the MIT Medical Department will continue to provide the same wide range of services on campus that we do today," she said.

Question: Right now I get all of my health care from doctors and nurses at the MIT Medical Department. Will this new affiliation with MGH and the Brigham change anything? Do I have to pick a new personal physician?

Smith: No. You'll continue to get your care from the same doctors and nurses at the MIT Medical Department that you do now. On January 1 the Medical Department will provide the same services it did on December 31. We are not reducing services in any way. In fact, we hope to offer additional medical specialties on campus in the next year.

Question: A few years ago, I broke my arm on the weekend and when I called MIT Medical, they sent me to Mt. Auburn Hospital. If I have an emergency, should I just go ahead to Mass. General?

Smith: The emergency procedure hasn't changed at all. You should first call MIT Medical's 24-hour Urgent Care Line (617) 253-1311, for advice and authorization. After January 1, if the emergency cannot be handled in the Medical Department, you will be sent to Mass. General instead of Mt. Auburn. If the emergency is life-threatening, seek the nearest source of medical care and call the Urgent Care Line as soon as practical, but within 48 hours.

Question: I read an article in Tech Talk where someone in the Medical Department said we would eventually be able to use Partners satellite locations. Can I do this January 1?

Smith: We will be working on satellite locations in early 1996 with the possibility of adding one or two satellites some time during 1996, but we do not have definite sites or dates yet.

Question: I'm thinking of joining the Traditional MIT Health Plan and now see a thyroid specialist at MGH. Will I be able to continue to see my MGH thyroid doctor now that the Medical Department is affiliated with Partners?

Smith: No. If the Medical Department currently provides a medical specialty, your care must be provided by our physicians here in the department. This has been true for many years, and the move to Partners doesn't change that at all. The MIT Medical Department has two highly qualified endocrinologists who can care for your thyroid condition, or act as consultants to other internists in the Medical Department.

Question: I'm not seeing anyone now at MGH, but if I needed neurosurgery and wanted to have a particular neurosurgeon at MGH perform the surgery, will I be able to have her to do the surgery? I'm a member of the Traditional MIT Health Plan.

Smith: Only if she is one of the physicians included in the agreement with MIT Medical. For a specialty like neurosurgery that is not provided by our own doctors, MIT Medical has arrangements with specific physicians to care for our patients. Your MIT Medical Department personal physician will refer you to one of these physicians and work together with the MGH physician to make sure you get the care you need.

Question: I'm currently a member of the Traditional MIT Health Plan and am in the middle of chemotherapy with a physician at Mount Auburn. Will I be able to continue treatment or do I have to switch all of my care to MGH?

Smith: You can continue with your current doctor. We will be allowing patients with serious medical conditions who have ongoing relationships with certain physicians to continue that arrangement. Talk to your MIT Medical Department personal physician, to make sure that the continued care is coordinated and authorized by our physicians.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 8, 1995.

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