Deadly Detroit fire impacts medical patients

Medical records lost in Detroit office building fire, what should patients do now?

Published On: Apr 10 2013 04:49:37 PM EDT   Updated On: Apr 10 2013 07:19:18 PM EDT
Medical office fire Detroit
DETROIT -

The deadly fire that ripped through the Park Medical Plaza in Detroit is also having an impact on the thousands of patients who visited the plaza for their health care.

In addition to losing the offices they used to visit, those patients have also lost their medical records. Many of them can never be replaced.

Still in shock after deadly Detroit fire

They day after the fire killed two people at 8305 Grand River, patients were still showing up to see the devastation firsthand.

"I'm just shocked to see the damage. It's completely flattened," said John King of Detroit.

He used to visit the Rainbow Dental Center which had an office in the plaza.

When Ruth to the Rescue told him about all the medical records that were apparently destroyed, it took him by surprise. "I never thought about that...I'm gonna have to call my dentist and find out what happened," he said. Ruth to the Rescue reached out to the Rainbow Dental Center for more details about its medical records, and additional information for its patients. So, far our calls have not been returned.

Doctor's records disaster

While Park Medical Centers was probably the biggest resident in the plaza, it was also home to podiatrist Dr. Stuart Kirschenbaum. He says about 20 appointments had to be canceled on the day after the fire.

"Most people had seen what happened on the news," he said.

Doctor Kirschenbaum came to the scene of the fire to see if anything could be saved from his office. As the former Michigan Boxing Commissioner, he had a lot of priceless memorabilia inside his office. He also had the records of thousands of patients.

"I have 43 years of medical records that were totally destroyed," said Dr. Kirschenbaum, a podiatrist.

What can be done

The Michigan Department of Community Health says patients who lose their records might be able to recover some information. It says you can check with family members, like your parents, who might have copies of some records.

It also has these suggestions:

1) Check with other doctors you have seen. Sometimes their offices share records, and you might be able to find another copy of some information.
2) If you have a child in school or a licensed daycare, they might have copies of your child's immunization records.
3) Anyone who's served in the military, should check with the defense department for any records that might have been kept.
4) The Michigan Care Improvement Registry maintains a website that tracks proof of immunization. You could go to that website and follow the prompts to find records of immunizations. The website is www.mcir.org.

As for Doctor Kirschenbaum and his patients, "I gotta start from scratch. Every time a patient comes in its' going to be a new record, a new chart,” he told Ruth to the Rescue

The podiatrist also told Ruth to the Rescue he has offers from four doctors to let him use temporary office space, and he plans to move to a new location in the New Center area in about 3 months.

Doctor Kirschenbaum said his office phone lines are still working, and that's the best way to keep in touch. He will post information about the temporary space on the voice mail, and will launch a mass mailing once he has a location selected. Luckily, the billing company he uses has information about his patients' addresses from the last six years.

Park Medical Centers

Park Medical Centers has a largely walk-in clientele. The day after the fire it set up a mobile office to answer patients' questions and direct them to nearby offices.

The flier they handed out told patients they could see Dr. Richard Brown and Dr. Gloria Chaney at 12871 E. Jefferson (313-821-3900) and they might find Dr. Barry Bronstein at 20720 Plymouth Road (313-493-4330).

It also listed a main office number of (248) 356-5555. Ruth to the Rescue reached out to the Park Medical Centers for more information on its medical records, but our calls were not returned.

As doctor and patients look to move forward, it's hard for many to believe the tragedy that played out in a place of healing and good health.

Dental patient John King said, "It's just sad and I feel bad for the people who work here ... and all of the sudden this happens!"