Epilogue to the Clinic of Angels

The Clinic of Angels is a charity that arrived, achieved its goals, and dissolved. Interesting for a charity to succeed and then vanish.

I, Dr. Cichon, along with a close Friend and advisor, Paul Dagostino, formed this charity. I was treating patients and succeeding at a 75 % to 80% rate. These patients were victims whose lives had been ruined by Lyme Disease! Patients were cured in many cases, or able to achieve a viable life again. The treatment was using aggressive intravenous antibiotics at doses used to treat meningitis, along with some oral antibiotics . These treatments at the time were expensive, not only the IV meds, oral meds, but the iv route of administration. Often peripheral IVs were utilized, but often “picc” lines were needed, and rarely a surgically placed port.

During 2003 and 2004, I was dismayed by the fact insurance companies would not pay for therapies longer than a month! They based this on evidence based studies. This would seem a correct guide, but these studies were flawed and biased by the authors. However the health insurance company utilized to their financial advantage, despite numerous appeals to the contrary.

The saddest day and also the happiest day paradoxically was when a patient would say “This is the best I felt in years!” soon to realize the insurance company would not cover more than a month of therapy! This was frustrating for the patient and family as well as myself and staff. This is when Paul Dagostino then head of the child abuse council of Hillsborough county leant his valuable support. We decided to form a charity since many patients were spent emotionally and financially. Patients were now getting better and with some financial help, they could get well and have a viable life again. Patients could now return back to work, back to school, raise their children or start a family. This led to the formation of the Clinic of Angels!

The title “Clinic of Angels” came about a few years earlier during the horrible years of aids before better therapies came along. The many patients I saw with my staff of nurses were quite ill and many would die. We offered the latest therapies and treat their dreadful illness. Often they would call my nurses angels. In fact one patient presented us with a handsome brass plaque “Clinic of Angels”.

A charity was formed in 2004. A wonderful group of volunteers helped form the board and many patients donated time and especially money to make it a success! It was fulfilling work. We had funds to complete therapies and often patients could have a healthy, functional life. They could raise a family or be a viable parent or spouse again. Many fund raisers were held, testimonials were read or given, and many vignettes were heard. It was a wonderful time for the charity.

After years of success, by 2014 things were changing. Health cost for the iv meds dropped as they went generic, plus many pharma companies had programs to help those with financial burden. The Clinic of Angels had spearheaded these efforts with a committee to help patients get financial need, who to write for aid etc. It was a great success. Also the affordable care act now opened new opportunities for patients to get insurance previously denied. The Clinic of Angels was receiving request for a wide array of therapies that the committee was at a loss as well as myself to approve. It now became more difficult for the committees to comprehend many other modalities. These therapies were holistic , naturopathic and other nonmainstream therapies that our knowledge was not adequate to make a decision. Also I was retiring, everyone was a volunteer and the time was right. The therapies we proposed were now not cost prohibitive.

The many thank yous and testimonials will always be remembered by myself and the board members. A very proud attribute was that over 93% of money raised went directly to provide therapy to the patient. What a great accomplishment for the Clinic of Angels! At our last fund raiser, The Spring Fling, held under a tent in front of my office we announced dissolution of the charity. It was a sad evening but a very grateful evening to say good bye to the many donors and patients present. Plaques with a bell from the John Marshall Lloyd bell collection were presented to the board members. The last “nurses cap walk” was led by a special angel Norma Blanco. Norma was one of the many angels that touched our lives. The many donors who stepped forward to reach our goals will never be forgotten.

It is my honor to thank the board members for their staying the course, making the Clinic of Angels a success!

John Bauder, friend with financial expertise and guided us as our treasurer.
Dr. Susan Beaven, a professional that advised and helped in many ways.
Kimberly Campbell, a human resources professional that from the beginning guided us, and was our earliest secretary.
Paul Dagostini, a great friend who advised and guided us to existence. Head of child abuse council, vast knowledge in fund raising, a great inspiration. The cornerstone of the charity.
Sandie Dobie, nurse and pharma rep, her knowledge and committee work made a difference.
Lily Hughson, head of spring fling fund raisers, she put her whole heart into the charity, great organizer.
Tom Jones, the true helping hand, ask tom and he got it done. He was responsible for the large bell in front of the office. Made the spring fling work.
John Giampoli, CFO of large national building firm. He guided us and raised funds.
Sandi Murman, a respected political figure in Florida, she guided us and got us started.
Dolaras Perrone, worked with Shriners international a lot of knowledge she brought and directed our beginning.
Alexa Matesich, young energetic, heart of gold, inspiring person to work with.
Susan Ganio, my office nurse for years, knew the patients, knew their suffering, a true devoted professional. Florence nightingale would have been proud. Very motivating.
Elaine Cichon, my wife but more, keen business sense, we burned the midnight oil, many hours together to keep the charity going and be successful, a cornerstone of the charity. My right hand. She like many in our group witnessed the difficulty faced by patients gave them counsel and hope.

The board members all believed in the charity, all added expertise, hope to our cause. We had fun together. They are all very special angels!

A special thank you to Fred Meyer for donations and actually acquired the bell. To John Ganio for his it help and our acting chaplain, who’s beautiful prayer began our meetings and functions. To Kristen Cramer, our web master and it expert who answered all our prayers and made the web page a success.

In conclusion, this web site will remain open for a year of reflection. The Clinic of Angels did its job as a charity. It was a great success. It did God’s work. I’m retired and would like to come back and help patients with Lyme Disease. A dream would be a benefactor to actually open a physical structure called the Clinic of Angels.

God bless to all, we did a good job!

Dr. Cichon