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Success Stories

"Repeat 'Customers' Seek Second Opinion Second Time"

Positive Experience Impels Family to Reuse Cleveland Clinic MyConsult Service

Idaho may be known for potatoes, but its capital, Boise, is a major city with high-quality healthcare facilities.

And that's no small potatoes - especially when a health problem looks you in the eye.

So when Robin Ivanoffs husband, Kent, developed a muscle problem three years ago that was severely impacting his active lifestyle, he felt good about seeking medical help in his hometown of Boise. But the doctors could not get to the bottom of the problem, says Robin. They said it was mitochondrial myopathy, which is a severe diagnosis with no known cure. We wanted to learn more about it.

Then the Ivanoffs discovered the MyConsult® Online Medical Second Opinion program, which is a sophisticated, web-based extension of Cleveland Clinic's 90-plus-year role as one of Americas most respected referral institutions. Using their home computer, they accessed the secure program, which provides online medical second opinions from Cleveland Clinic specialists for more than 1,200 life-threatening and life-changing diagnoses.

According to Robin, they received a quick response from MyConsult®. The Cleveland Clinic doctors said, 'Based on the lab work and test results you sent us, were fairly certain you dont have mitochondrial myopathy, she notes. 'If you want us to diagnose the problem, we will need to see you Cleveland.'

So Kent went to Cleveland and had a great experience, she notes. After additional testing, the physicians diagnosed Kents issue as a non-progressive enzyme deficiency that is easily treated with a variety of specific, over-the-counter supplements. Kent is back to his daily routine of vigorous exercise and is doing really well right now.

After that positive experience, the Ivanoffs did not hesitate to use MyConsult® a year later when Robins father, Larry Gunnoe, needed to address health issues caused by a heart condition. My father was experiencing all the symptoms of heart failure, including severe fatigue and shortness of breath, says Robin. His medications were not having an effect on him anymore, and his quality of life was in an absolute freefall.

Accessing the 'best of the best'

After eight months of physical deterioration, the family wanted to make sure that they were making the most informed decisions for Larry, and they sought another MyConsult® medical second opinion. Cleveland Clinic cardiovascular expert Robert Hobbs, MD, took on the case and confirmed the diagnosis of local physicians, who had advised that Larry be implanted with a left ventricular assist device (LVAD), a mechanical pump that helps the heart pump blood.

Cleveland Clinic is known for being the best of the best, and its great to be able to take advantage of their services without having to travel, Robin says. MyConsult is very user friendly, and its nice to be able to do everything online. I never had any computer or website problems. Since you can save the information you have entered, I was able to go in and out of my secure account (which I had set up during the registration process) about 15 times with no problems.

My fathers health was spiraling, and I was in a panic, she notes. I called the MyConsult staff at least five times with different questions and issues, and each and every time they answered right away or returned all my calls within 24 hours. They are an amazing group of people. They are helpful, thorough, professional and knowledgeable.

Dr. Hobbss report was very candid and thorough and answered every question we had, says Robin. Although my father's prognosis is not wonderful, it is nice to know where he stands and what our options are. Dr. Hobbs said we should pursue the LVAD, but he was concerned about my fathers lung function and low body weight.

Based on Dr. Hobbss advice to pursue the LVAD, Larry and his wife, Marlene, went to a heart center in Salt Lake City. Dr. Hobbss concerns were valid, and my father was rejected as a candidate for the LVAD, says Robin. However, they found out his lungs were worse than his heart, and his treatment was modified. He went home and went on steroids, which helped him to miraculously recover.

Although he was feeling much better, Larry was unable to tolerate his heart medications. After visiting an endocrinologist and rheumatologist, it was determined that he had an underlying inflammatory disease. This was successfully treated. Since then, Larry gained back 35 pounds.

My father is 100 percent better, says Robin. He gained back 35 pounds, exercises three to four times a week and tolerates his medications well.

Now that he is healthy again, Larry will most likely become more and more active. He has been an avid fly fisherman, golfer, cross country skier and hiker. He is also a voracious reader and loves socializing, watching world news and sports on TV, and playing with his grandchildren, Robin says. The grandchildren - all boys -- are aged 11, 14, 17 and 21.

I thank Cleveland Clinic for the most professional, compassionate interactions I have ever had with a healthcare facility, says Robin. Each and every time I contacted the MyConsult staff they were more than helpful. They are a team of world-class people!