Friday, August 6, 2010

Chatting with Kimberly Parks, DO, of "Boston Med"

The heart of the matter: a screenshot of Parks and Pollet from episode five

Kimberly Parks, DO, a transplant cardiologist in the MGH Heart Center, is one of several MGHers featured in "Boston Med." In episode five, Parks cares for Marvin Pollet, a middle-aged detective from Louisiana with a rare heart disease. Though he is initially put on the transplant list for a new heart, his condition deteriorates, so he has to be removed from the list. Sadly, he eventually dies. In the following interview, Parks answers some questions about "Boston Med" and Pollet.

Q. How long have you been working at the MGH?A. A little over two years -- after completing my fellowship at MGH, I then joined the faculty.Q. Why did you agree to participate in the filming of the show?A. I love the work that I do. Participating in filming is a great way to share our own amazing experiences with others. It is an incredible privilege to interact with and care for people who are facing their own mortality. Exposing illnesses like Marvin's is a good thing for the public. One can gain a much better appreciation of their own life through observing others who may be less fortunate in terms of their health. In many cases they have a happy ending, but sometimes they don't.Q. What was it like to be filmed while working and to be followed by a film crew?A. Going through the filming process actually raised the level of intensity of the work I was doing. Typically, my day is rather busy. My time is focused on being efficient, going from one difficult situation right into the next. When you are stopped between each case and asked questions by the film crew, you are forced to leave the scientific aspect of each case and think about how profound the work we do is. That definitely added to the emotional intensity of each case.Q. What was your reaction after watching the episode you were featured in?A. I had a lot of mixed emotions, and obviously they could only show a glimpse of the entire story. I would've liked to have seen more footage of Marvin before he was critically sick, so that the audience could get to know him a little better. I'm really glad that they were able to expose the amount of work, dedication and emotional involvement that occurs when taking care of very sick patients. Most caregivers don’t find satisfaction in their work unless they extend their involvement to the human side.Q. Marvin's case was a very emotional, very tragic one. Was it hard for you to watch the episode and relive the situation?A. It definitely brought me back to that day, and I relived the frustration and sadness I felt at the time. Although we were unable to achieve our goal of getting Marvin a new heart, I am at peace knowing that his family has been able to deal with his loss so gracefully. Part of me believes that his story was meant to be told, in a way, and perhaps that was his mission in coming to the MGH.Q. How often does a denied insurance claim affect a case like Marvin's? Is that something you see a lot?A. More often than you would imagine. I have frequently made personal phone calls to medical directors at insurance companies because of the denial of what I considered to be life-saving medical treatment. It's extraordinarily frustrating.Q. Have you talked to his family at all since the show aired?A. Marvin's wife Jeanette and I have been in contact over the past year. We talk every few months, and we talked the week the show aired and after it aired. His wife is an extraordinary individual. His family is kind, loving and warm.Q. Have any of your current patients mentioned it to you?A. I've received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback about the show. The patients it seems to have affected the most are our heart transplant recipients. It allowed them to gain a new appreciation for the life that they now have -- they know what could have been their outcome. Those patients who are waiting for a transplant and are currently very ill found it difficult to watch the show because it was too close to home. I think for the most part, people were touched by the episode, and a powerful message was sent.

For more information on "Boston Med," visit here.

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