Monday, January 5, 2009

WARNING to the Endo Community: Dr. Gregory Smith

Update: As many individuals have reminded me that this individual might be either "borrowing" or faking a name, I am editing the post to reflect that no one knows for sure what this person's "real" name might be. It is important to take caution in all of your interactions with others, and don't be afraid to ask the tough questions when you have them. As always, the law says that we are innocent until proven guilty, however it is important to alert others to the potential dangers that are out there within the endo community.

As many of you know, for the past 7 years I have moderated the Goddesses of Endometriosis yahoo support group for women with endo and those who want to offer their support. I love doing this as it's something that I feel I can give back to the community in hopes of helping others avoid the even some of the pitfalls that I've been through in my journey. A life dedicated towards serving others is also a Buddhist principle that I try to follow in my life, hence the social work degree.

What is sickening me to death today, and it's not the fact that I'm on day 31 of my cycle!, is the fact that there are people and organizations out there who are all too willing to take advantage of our suffering. To play on the desperation of others who are anxiously searching for their "miracle" is a very sick and perverse thing to do. We're all searching for answers, we're all searching for treatments that work, we're all suffering in our own little (or perhaps not so little) way. After all, who among us wants to live in daily pain?

"Dr. Gregory Smith" joined my support group sometime within the last year and a half, and I've been trying to keep close tabs on this individual since. I have received several complaints from women on my support group, alleging that he has contacted them privately and "asked very forward, personal questions in regards to (among other things) sex life".

I had e-mailed this "gentleman" several times to ask what his area of specialty was. I figured if you're going to use the title in your name, then be willing to discuss it! I also asked him his purposes of joining the support group, how did he get involved in endo awareness, essentially digging for any information at all. I did not receive any responses, but he did drop off from posting messages to the group for awhile, although I have no idea if he's posted privately of course!

Yesterday, I had the fortunate and random opportunity to meet yet another endo lady from a different online support group. She had the unfortunate opportunity of possibly e-mailing with "Dr. Gregory" and had responded to my e-mail asking me if I had heard about him. The rest of the conversation was very disturbing and something that ALL of us should take strong note of:

"Dr. Gregory Smith" had befriended this lady on an online support group, although he was out of state. I think nothing of this since I speak with many worldwide in my efforts to raise awareness. However what happened next is quite disturbing.

"Dr. Smith" had apparently asked her very specific and detailed questions about her sex life. She got the impression that he was a complete "pervert" from what he was asking. He then allegedly proceeded to tell her that if she provided him with her health insurance information and her previous health history that he would then connect her with an endo specialist!

This is personal information. Individuals submitting info to "Dr. Gregory" have no idea where info sent to this "gentleman" is going to, who is using it and for what purposes. It's highly inappropriate to ask endo patients within a support group these types of questions, and for detailed health information. Whether this "gentleman" is a doctor or not, it all seems highly unacceptable!

I am urging you all to PLEASE take note of this. If any of you has had any personal dealings with "Dr. Gregory Smith", please let me know. Your health information, along with your health insurance plan, should not be abused by someone who is so obviously trying to take advantage of our suffering.

NOTE: Endochick has posted a good blog about protecting your personal information while online. It is highly worth taking the time to read this important notice! Endochick's blog is located at: http://endochick.wordpress.com/

11 comments:

endochick said...

Yes, Melissa, this is behavior is completely uncalled for. We, as bloggers, must be very careful to protect ourselves from fraud. We make connections with those who feel the same awful pain we do, and for people to try and prey on our vulnerability is despicable.

-- Endochick

Jeanne said...

Melissa,

Happy to see Endochick beat me here. I had emailed some fellow health bloggers tonight (including her) with the warning.

I posted on my blog tonight about this topic and, as you know, we've been busy on Facebook tonight on this!

Let's hope we can rally as many endo bloggers as possible to post on this ASAP!! Let's get those Google rankings up and reach as many as possible with this warning!!

I feel nauseous!

Jeanne

P.S. Endochick, thanks for the quick response!!

Mckay K said...

Oh my goodness. This is horrible. I am so glad that you are all bringing this unprofessional behavior to the light.

This is so frightening!

Melissa Ralston said...

Thanks for your support on this ladies. It's very sad when any individual feels such a need for power that they are willing to trample other people in the process. I'm hoping that in providing a unified voice we can take back the power that these people have so slyly wiggled away from us.

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Melissa Ralston said...

Hi everyone,

I have removed several of the comments in regards to "Dr. Gregory Smith"'s connection with a larger endometriosis awareness association.

This association and I have been in contact privately in regards to this matter, and they have stated that they are looking into this with their resources. Regardless of their past actions, we can only move forward from this point.

If you have specific concerns in regards to an individual's activity, I would urge you to contact whatever applicable organization is involved with situation.

It is important to remember that this is only one such individual, and we are likely to come across more as we progress through our journey. Exercise caution when you feel the need arise from your instincts.

Melissa

Squidgeaboo said...

Melissa, I've posted the warning on my blog as well, FYI. I think the best we can do is get the word out, protect ourselves in the future and move forward with our lives.

Thanks for the heads' up!

http://endosquidge.wordpress.com/2009/01/08/warning-to-the-endo-community-dr-gregory-smith/

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Endometriosis: Facing the Battle Head-On by Melissa Ralston is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 Canada License.