OMF and BHC Join Forces to Improve Patient Care

by | Aug 2, 2022 | BHC News, Clinical Care, Fibromyalgia, Home, Long COVID, ME/CFS, Orthostatic Intolerance, Provider Education

I am proud–and excited–to announce a new and important collaboration between BHC and OMF. We are jointly launching the Medical Education Resource Center (MERC) for multisystem chronic complex diseases (msCCD). Our two respected organizations will bring complementary strengths together, with a primary goal of improving access to informed and compassionate medical care for our stakeholders. We know that research progress and access to care are critical needs. We also know that well-educated providers will diagnose more patients and provide better care, which in turn will fast-track research progress.

I’ve fought since 2001 to increase awareness in the medical community about ME/CFS, fibromyalgia, and related illnesses. In 2015 we strategically formed the Bateman Horne Center, using a unique non-profit model to promote research, clinical care, and provider education. Linda Tannenbaum and OMF have a parallel story but are more closely aligned to research progress. Then, as has become increasingly evident, the COVID-19 pandemic pushed viral infection, immunity, inflammation, and now post-viral syndromes into the urgent consciousness of medical, scientific, and public institutions. There is no more important time to provide strong leadership, in both education and research based on decades of experience, to this pressing worldwide situation.

Within the last 15-20 years, we have learned about conditions like, or comorbid with, ME/CFS, FM, and related illnesses, such as mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS), syndromes of orthostatic intolerance (OI), small fiber polyneuropathy (SFPN), hypermobile Ehler’s Danlos syndrome (hEDS), and others. We want to teach clinical providers to identify and manage these comorbid conditions, along with long COVID, which can lead to significant improvements in functional capacity and quality of life.

Our strategy and outreach will be broad and informed by oversight committees which include patients, caregivers, and professionals. We will build on what BHC has already accomplished, including patient education and support, web-based provider educational materials, continuing medical education (CME) programs, in-house provider training and shadowing, and building strong bonds with academic and federal institutions who can provide validation and multiply our efforts. Our efforts aim to be high-level and collaborative, strongly focused on productive change.

To accomplish these lofty goals, both non-profit organizations (BHC and OMF) will need ongoing financial support. Medical insurance and membership fees do not cover the services BHC provides to patients, which include detailed and individualized care in clinic, educational materials, and ongoing support groups for the broader community. Research in this field is notoriously underfunded. Funds for training clinical providers are virtually unheard of in our field. Thank you for your generous donations in the past and please continue if you can.

One subject I hesitate to mention is my availability to clinic patients. I am not “retiring,” but rather, gearing up to seize the opportunity and tackle thorny problems. To catalyze this important progress, I must realistically, downsize my clinical practice. I hope that my beloved patients recognize why this is important, and feel confident they have learned important management tools to thrive long term. This includes joining the effort to inform and “train” primary care providers. Every one of us can be an educational emissary to transform our medical support system.

Those of you who are my patients, I encourage you to review your options to see other BHC providers if helpful or bond with your PCP and associated medical team, and educate them about this illness complex. Honestly, we will only make progress for others in the future if we come out of our silos and infiltrate the rest of medicine!