A Bridge to U.S Healthcare: A PCOM Student Traverses the Journey

By Brett Lipetz, MS4

Cancer not only affects individuals but also affects families and loved ones, as well. The process can be extremely difficult, with immense challenges for all involved.

During the past year, I have been involved in the volunteer role as a medical consultor to the American Medical Concierge Services (AMCSCare), an international oriented healthcare organization. AMCSCare is committed to providing the critical assistance necessary for international patients, in order for them to be able to navigate and traverse the complex procedures involved in seeking and receiving medical treatment in the United States. These procedures include, but are not confined to securing and organizing comprehensive international patient reports for the various U.S. hospitals involved; as well as securing visa, transportation and housing services for those who may be accompanying the patient to the U.S. The AMCSCare Team aims to elevate the level of care offered to international patients, creating a global standard of excellence in culturally sensitive care with a particular focus on wellness, compassion, and respect.

As a fourth-year medical student at PCOM, my involvement with this purposeful organization greatly focuses on providing logistical (address visa concerns); organizational (examine patient intake forms); and research skills (compile medical information on particular cancers) for international medical patients. In fact, I began my association with AMCSCare as an off-shoot of my volunteerism with the American Asia Amity Association (AAAA). The AAAA is also, an organization that includes humanitarian-related activities which have forged relationships between the U.S. and China. In my association with the organization over the past several years, I have had the opportunity to travel to the Shanghai region of China to meet and interact with doctors and other hospital personnel, engaging in conversation relating to patient care and technological advancements in oncological treatments.

As ACMSCare is in its first year, and a fledgling humanitarian organization, we have spent most of the year engaged in organizational endeavors. We have, however, started to begin to accept and administrate patient referrals. One such referral was a young child from the Guangzhou region of China, diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a rare form of eye cancer.

ACMSCare anticipated and had prepared for a possible consultation with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, one of our hospital partners for consultation and treatment. This, in fact, was a key basis for the consideration of ACMSCare, as it relates to focusing on this form of childhood cancer.

Also, an area of strategic Chinese concern involves very young cancer patients with retinoblastoma, a disease in which malignant cells form in the tissue of the retina. There are about 1,000 cases reported annually in China, the survival rate is just about 40% [1]; yet, the survival rate in the U.S. for retinoblastoma approaches 95% [2]. In the near future, ACMSCare plans to make, as one of its strategic focuses, the cancer treatment for these retinoblastoma patients who will be coming to the U.S. from China.

Brett LipetzThe rewards of being involved with a humanitarian organization, such as ACMSCare, is that it integrates global reach with United States healthcare, forging a synergistic relationship, while also providing a level of healthcare “open to the world.” In this respect, the boundaries for superior healthcare continue to disappear.

I am very pleased that I will be beginning my internal medicine residency with PCOM in July and although I am not planning on pursuing oncological medicine, I find it extremely interesting. ACMSCare has not branched out into other areas of treatment or specialties (as of yet), but plans are, in the near future, to include cardiology.

*Brett Lipetz (center) with ACMSCare

Being affiliated with the organizations, both AMCSCare, as well as AAAA, and their humanitarian associated efforts and coalescence between the two nations has served to reinforce my hope for global excellence in health care for all. I am very pleased, as a volunteer, to be a part of this.

[1] Retinoblastoma: Making a Difference Together, Mary Elizabeth Davis, RN Asia-Pacific Journal of Oncology Nursing 2017 Jul-Sept; 4 (3): 181-183

[2] same as footnote 1