Senior patient crosses state lines to get healthcare in North Carolina

EXPECTANCY GOES UP IN THE U.S., OLDER ADULTS ARE NEEDING MORE HEALTH CARE. BUT SOME DOCTORS AREN’T ALWAYS WILLING OR ABLE TO TREAT THEM JUST BECAUSE OF THEIR THEIR AGE. I HEARD FROM ONE FRUSTRATED PATIENT ABOUT THIS TRAVELING HOURS TO THE TRIAD TO FIND A SOLUTION. I’M CLOSER TO THE END THAN I AM TO THE BEGINNING. AS I AM WLL AWARE. DESPITE BEING 87 YEARS OLD, HE WAS FORCED TO SAY I WAS HEALTHY. I THINK IT ANNOYS PEOPLE. CARL MALINCHAK STILL HAS A LOT OF LIFE LEFT TO LIVE. SO WHEN SHE STARTED EXPERIENCING INCREASING BACK PAIN, SHE WENT TO DOCTORS WHERE SHE LIVES IN SOUTH CAROLINA FOR HELP AND SHE WAS TOLD THE SAME THING OVER AND OVER. YOU NEED SURGERY, BUT I WON’T DO IT BECAUSE IT’LL KILL YOU. AND SHE FELT ANGRY. UH, SO SHE TOOK TO HER KEYBOARD, SEARCHING FOR A SURGEON WHO WOULD OPERATE. HEY. GOOD EVENING. THAT LED HER MORE THAN 100 MILES AWAYTO DOCTOR MARK LYERLY. GOOD TO SEE YOU. AND YOU STILL LOOK LIKE SANTA CLAUS. OH, MY. THE NOVANT HEALTH NEUROSURGEON IS BASED IN WINSTON-SALEM AND HAS BECOME KNOWN FOR TREATING SENIORS IN THEIR 70S. 80S 90S EVEN JUST A FEW DAYS SHY OF 102, HIS WHOLE PHILOSOPHY IS FIXING WHAT HE CAN TO MAKE THE REST OF THEIR LIVES BETTER. THERE ARE A NUMBER OF SMALL SURGERIES OR SMALL PROCEDURES YOU MIGHT HAVE TO OFFER THAT CAN MAKE A TREMENDOUS BENEFIT. YOU DON’T TREAT AN X RAY. YOU DON’T TREAT A PIECE OF PAPER. YOU LOOK AT THE PERSON AS A WHOLE. MUSIC TO MY EARS. YOU GAVE ME A GIFT OF GOOD SURGERY. NOW, FOUR MONTHS POST-OP, SHE IS CLEARED TO DO ANYTHING ON HER TO DO LIST. ALTHOUGH SHE SAYS I DON’T REALLY HAVE A TO DO LIST, JUST GET UP EVERY DAY AND FIND SOMETHING TO DO. ONE AGENDA ITEM THOUGH, IS SPREADING THIS MESSAGE TO ALL SENIORS OUT THERE. ADVOCATE FOR YOUR HEALTH. EVEN THOUGH WE’RE OLD, WE’RE HUMANS. DON’T GIVE UP. THEY’RE MAKING THEIR OWN RISK ASSESSMENT. YOU HAVE TO MAKE YOURS. YOU KEEP LOOKING. YOU WILL FIND ONE. NO. ISN’T SHE AWESOME? YES. YEAH. RIGHT FROM THE BEGINNING YOU COMMENTS YOU WERE LIKE 87. SHE LOOKS AND SOUNDS FANTASTIC. I KNOW, TRUST ME, SHE HAS THAT ENERGY IN PERSON TOO. SHE WAS JUST CRACKING US UP. SOMETHING I DIDN’T GET TO INCLUDE THERE. IS SHE JUST GOT A KITTEN VERY RECENTLY AND SHE WAS TALKING ABOUT IT WITH HER, WITH HER VET SAYING I DON’T KNOW HOW LONG I’LL BE ABLE TO TAKE CARE OF THIS. THEY’RE LIKE, YOU’RE GOING TO OUTLIVE THAT KITTEN THE WAY YOU’RE GOING. SHE’S JUST ON IT. SO I’M HAPPY I GOT TO SHARE HER STORY AND HAPPY SHE GOT THE SOLUTION THAT SHE NEEDED RIGHT HERE FROM NOVANT IN THE TRIAD. GREAT. GREAT STORY JACKIE. THANK YOU. I LIKE THAT SHE SAID JUST F

Senior patient crosses state lines to get healthcare in North Carolina

The 87-year-old needed spine surgery, and could only find a Triad doctor willing to do it

On paper, 87-year-old Caryl Mlincek isn’t the ideal spine surgery patient, with multiple past surgeries and severe scoliosis. But she jumps off the page when face-to-face, bursting with energy and jokes.That’s why Dr. Mark Lyerly, a neurosurgeon with Novant Health, took on her case. “You don’t treat an X-ray,” he said. “You don’t treat a piece of paper. You look at the person as a whole.”When he meets patients older than 80, like Mlincek, Lyerly said he still takes into account all the same risk factors as other surgeons. But having done more than 6,000 procedures on patients age 65 and older, he said he’s realized there are smaller procedures he can do that can make a big impact in their lives. For example, Lyerly performed a spinal fusion for Mlincek just before Thanksgiving, along with removing old, deteriorating parts from a previous surgery. He couldn’t correct all of her issues, but now, more than four months post-op, Mlincek said she’s incredibly grateful to be living with significantly less pain.”I’m closer to the end than I am the beginning, as I am well aware,” Mlincek said, “But I still have some good years. And even if it’s only a few weeks, I want them to be good weeks.”Mlincek came from Rock Hill, South Carolina, for the procedure in Winston-Salem with Dr. Lyerly. She said she had been denied multiple times by other surgeons closer to where she lives, and scoured the internet to find someone like Lyerly, with a specialty in taking on senior surgery cases.She encourages others to advocate for their health, no matter their age, and always get a second opinion, even if it’s 100-plus miles away!

On paper, 87-year-old Caryl Mlincek isn’t the ideal spine surgery patient, with multiple past surgeries and severe scoliosis. But she jumps off the page when face-to-face, bursting with energy and jokes.

That’s why Dr. Mark Lyerly, a neurosurgeon with Novant Health, took on her case.

“You don’t treat an X-ray,” he said. “You don’t treat a piece of paper. You look at the person as a whole.”

When he meets patients older than 80, like Mlincek, Lyerly said he still takes into account all the same risk factors as other surgeons. But having done more than 6,000 procedures on patients age 65 and older, he said he’s realized there are smaller procedures he can do that can make a big impact in their lives.

For example, Lyerly performed a spinal fusion for Mlincek just before Thanksgiving, along with removing old, deteriorating parts from a previous surgery. He couldn’t correct all of her issues, but now, more than four months post-op, Mlincek said she’s incredibly grateful to be living with significantly less pain.

“I’m closer to the end than I am the beginning, as I am well aware,” Mlincek said, “But I still have some good years. And even if it’s only a few weeks, I want them to be good weeks.”

Mlincek came from Rock Hill, South Carolina, for the procedure in Winston-Salem with Dr. Lyerly. She said she had been denied multiple times by other surgeons closer to where she lives, and scoured the internet to find someone like Lyerly, with a specialty in taking on senior surgery cases.

She encourages others to advocate for their health, no matter their age, and always get a second opinion, even if it’s 100-plus miles away!

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