By John Carruthers, staff writer, February 01, 2013
Melbourne, Fla., dermatologist Terrence Cronin, MD, in addition to running his successful practice, also serves a population of uninsured skin cancer patients. The commercial fishing community in his area, he said, leaves him with a number of patients who spend their working days in the sun and who more often than not lack insurance. Dr. Cronin has made it his mission to treat this population and convince others to volunteer their time for the uninsured.
“How can you turn away someone who has cancer?”
- Dr. Cronin began treating uninsured patients free of charge from the early days of his practice. At a relatively steady pace of a handful of cases per month, Dr. Cronin estimates that he’s performed over 1,000 surgeries for uninsured patients. In addition, he said, he has found a pathology group in the area that performs pathology services for these patients free of charge.
- “I’ve seen some very advanced cases with these patients. I used to give a presentation for the Florida Society of Dermatologic Surgery every year, and it would be a series of slides of the worst cancers. It got to the point where regular, smaller cancers wouldn’t even make the presentation.”
- One of Dr. Cronin’s commercial fisherman patients, he said, came in following a long absence and Dr. Cronin found that he had to remove and biopsy seven skin cancers, one of which turned out to be a melanoma. In exchange for the life-saving surgery, Dr. Cronin said, his patient returned later that week with a freshly-caught fish.
- Dr. Cronin’s son, dermatologist and Mohs surgeon Terrence Cronin Jr., MD, has been in and around his father’s dermatology office since he was a child. Now, Dr. Cronin said, they both work on uninsured skin cancer patients, and convince other physicians to take similar cases.
- “A lot of people think if they give a free operation, they’re giving away a thousand dollars or something of that nature. But you’re not doing that, you’re giving away a half hour of your time that you may not have done much with anyway.”
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