Several lupus and arthritis patients in Central Florida say they’re being delayed from getting essential care.
Patients tell Channel 9 Central Florida Arthritis and Osteoporosis Center suddenly shut down both Orlando and Kissimmee locations this month.
Weeks later, some patients say they can’t get their medical records.
“It’s just unbelievable, very baffling and absurd that (with) such a big medical practice, they leave so many patients with no answers,” said Yudelka Andino.
Andino says she was at the Orlando office on Oct. 26, less than a week before they closed. Her doctor ordered a list of tests and even scheduled a follow-up appointment for Nov. 29.
However, when she called this week, she heard this voicemail. “We regret to inform you our office has closed its doors as of November 1, 2023,” the voicemail says. “Although our Orlando office is closed, the Kissimmee office will remain open to assist with medical records until the end of the month.”
But Andino says she has not been able to get those records, and the clinic will not answer their calls.
Channel 9 visited the office, and the door was locked. The lights were off. The parking lot was empty except for another patient trying to get her records.
“My follow-up is coming up next week. I got a bit of blood work, and I’m trying to get the information, but no one is here,” said the patient, who didn’t want her face shown on camera.
Patients say it’s hard for other doctors to treat them without records. And even if they had the records, patients tell Channel 9, it’s difficult to get an appointment with another specialist. Andino says the earliest appointment she found is in February.
Two patients we spoke to say they’re left with only a month’s worth of medication and don’t know how they’ll get more.
“Unfortunately, it puts patients (like) myself and, of course, elderly patients with rheumatoid arthritis, also lupus, or anything that is autoimmune in a very, very hard place. We pay for monthly infusions that we rely on to control our conditions such as inflammation, joint pain, or, you know, progressive disorders. And we’re left with no answers.”
Channel 9 contacted the clinics and Athena Medical, the group that manages these clinics, several times— asking why they closed suddenly and when they plan to get the records to patients. They did not respond.