Sandeep Rajan, MD, knows how appropriate diagnosis and comprehensive care can change the lives of patients suffering from rare and complex benign blood disorders, such as hemophilia and thrombosis.
As a hematologist, he’s seen a wheelchair-bound patient become ambulatory and another stop needing dialysis, once their blood conditions were properly treated and regulated.
Dr. Rajan, who came to the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) three years ago, is working to make sure anyone in Memphis and the Mid-South suffering from a bleeding disorder receives life-changing comprehensive treatment.
He is the medical director of the Hemophilia and Thrombosis Treatment Center established by the College of Medicine at UTHSC. The clinic is the only one of its kind within 150 miles offering comprehensive, multidisciplinary treatment for all benign or noncancerous blood disorders to the adult population. The initiative reflects the college’s continuing effort to tackle the critical health needs of the community.
Dr. Rajan estimates that 750 to 800 people in the area suffer from bleeding disorders of one form or another. Roughly 350 to 400, mostly males, are hemophiliacs, whose blood has a reduced ability to clot. The rest are those with common and rare conditions, including anemia, thalassemia (abnormal formulation of hemoglobin), and thrombosis (increased tendency toward clotting).
The clinic offers care for these patients, and also treats patients with Hepatitis C, platelet disorders, abnormal proliferation of blood cells in the bone marrow, abnormal iron metabolism, and women’s health issues, such as excessive bleeding and clotting.
One of only 120 in the country, the clinic aims to be a one-stop-shop, bringing together hematology physician services, nursing, case management and social work, infusion therapy, physical therapy, dentistry, a laboratory, and pharmaceutical services to provide the best care. The clinic also has primary care physicians for routine health needs and collaborates with specialists.
“Comprehensive care is the guiding force behind treating bleeding disorders,” Dr. Rajan said. “Outcomes are better, and the cost is cut down.”
Historically, patients with bleeding disorders might see several health care providers for the various needs their illness creates. This made coordinated care difficult and outcomes often less than optimal. Sometimes, bleeding disorders were not diagnosed because providers were not trained to spot them, or providers were reluctant to take on these patients because of the specialization needed for their care.
The clinic has grown gradually, with hematology and primary physician and infusion services launching in March, 2016. The multi-team, comprehensive care started last month, Dr. Rajan said.
Besides providing patient care, Dr. Rajan is an associate professor in the Division of Hematology and Oncology at UTHSC. He is promoting the concept of comprehensive care by teaching medical students, residents, and fellows at UTHSC to correctly diagnose and treat these patients.
Prior to joining UTHSC, he was an associate professor in the Division of Hematology/Medical Oncology at University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, where he was the medical director of the Nebraska Hemophilia Center. He was introduced to the concept of comprehensive care for bleeding disorders in the 1990s, during his fellowship in hematology/oncology in Los Angeles at one of the first comprehensive health centers for bleeding disorder patients in the country.
“We are working to educate the next generation of health care providers to recognize these disorders and properly treat them, and not to be afraid of them,” Dr. Rajan said.
He is also working to educate health care workers in the Mid-South. “We wish to partner with generalists and other specialists in the area to rapidly diagnose and provide access to comprehensive care to patients with bleeding disorders and share care close to their home,” he said
The Hemophilia and Thrombosis Treatment Center is managed by University Clinical Health, a clinical practice group affiliated with UTHSC. It is located at 6401 Poplar Avenue, Suite 195. To contact the clinic or for more information, please call (901) 866-8547, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit http://universityclinicalhealth.com/ut-hematology/.