Providing Spine Care to Underserved Americans: Q&A With Dr. Morgan Lorio of Spine Health Foundation FeaturedWritten by Laura Miller | December 21, 2012
The Spine Health Foundation was founded by Executive Director Carol Conduff to provide spine care — including surgical procedures — for underserved populations in the United States. This non-profit organization serves people who are uninsured and underinsured with a variety of pathologies. The organization's Official Spokesperson, Morgan Lorio, MD, discusses the need for more access to spine care in this country and where he hopes the organization is headed in the future.
Q: Why did you decide to become involved with Spine Health Foundation?
Dr. Morgan Lorio: I decided to become a spine surgeon after I had a trauma in 1982 and several reconstructive procedures. I've been keenly focused on the spine to take care of myself and my family. One of my recent patients decided to found the organization to give back to others. I was asked onboard to work with other physicians and try to promote further involvement. It sometimes takes a physician to get other physicians involved. Most physicians go into medicine for altruistic reasons, but they reach a burn-out and they need a little nudge if they are going to give a little bit more.
Q: What are the most common pathologies you see among these patients?
ML: We see a host of maladies. The ones we see most often are those who are destroyed by back issues and are underinsured or uninsured. They usually have gone through the cookie cutter spine algorithm and their condition wasn't relieved. For whatever reason, something stopped that progress. For disenfranchised patients, it's life changing to have these surgical opportunities because we relieve their pain. It can make their whole lives better.
Q: Where do you see the biggest need for spine care and charity care going forward?
ML: I see the need for something like Spine Health Foundation growing. The International Society for the Advancement of Spine Surgery has added an advocacy wing for patients, but much of their focus is achieving patient access through their insurers. People who have lost their jobs don't have adequate coverage and have difficulty getting treatment. I think Spine Health Foundation provides help for those people with access to healthcare issues. As more and more issues arise, spine problems are pushed aside. America's backbone needs to be brought to the forefront.
We need to extend our advocacy platform for uninsured patients and frankly there is no platform today to fill that hole. We have patients calling from as far away as Texas because they are looking for access to spine care. Doctors outside of the United States follow the website and want to stay updated for their patients as well.
Our focus has been on the Appalachian region, but if it can grow and be recognized around the country that would be great. There would need to be a philanthropic outpour of money to achieve that. There isn't enough people to get the task done right now.
Q: Where would you like to see the foundation headed in the future?
ML: Ultimately, Spine Health Foundation has to be a parent foundation and help smaller satellite groups exist through national efforts. More physicians will need to become partners with the organization. We have orthopedic spine, neurosurgery, pain management, neuropsychology and chiropractic specialists to help those patients. They would also need a community board of non-physicians who recognize this as a problem and help to try to address it as well. At the end of the day, if your community members don't have a strong backbone, then your community and your nation can't be strong.
It has to become a recognized problem. We need to find those folks who are interested in addressing this problem.
The Spine Health Foundation is a tax-exempt 501(c) (3) organization.
To inquire or learn more about the Spine Health Foundation, or to make a donation:
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