New program helps police get quick healthcare

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by JESSICA HOLLOWAY / KVUE News and photojournalist SCOTT MCKENNEY

kvue.com

Posted on December 27, 2013 at 9:17 PM

Updated Friday, Dec 27 at 9:20 PM

AUSTIN -- When a police officer is hurt on the job, it can take weeks to see a doctor. Now, with the help of 25 specialists in the area, they can get help right away.

Playtime with his son is one of Officer Michael Crossen's favorite things. He's more than an Austin cop. He's a husband, a father and now, a cancer patient.

"I do chemo every two weeks," Crossen said. "That'll be for six months."

Crossen was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. Like most families, the Crossens don't have a lot of extra time, but now they're getting some assistance from a new health program.

"Within 30 minutes, the oncologist is calling him and his wife saying, 'Why don't you come see me first thing Monday morning? I've cleared a space for you,'" said APD assistant police chief Steve Deaton, speaking about Crossen's diagnosis.

"They are able to get in and see a professional within 24 hours," said Jonathan Sheinberg, M.D., a cardiologist. "It's less time off from work. It's less overtime for the city."

Sheinberg is a former patrol officer who organized a team of two dozen doctors who agree to see police officers within minutes of their injuries.

"The officers that work hard, as city employees they don't get the benefits they deserve," Sheinberg said. "This is a way for us to give back."

The doctors treat officers for all kinds of conditions, ranging from preventative care to even a handshake injury.

"At a recent officer's funeral, I was shaking hands with some of these young officers," said Deaton. "One of them was a robust gentleman. He shook my hand, and I felt it pop."

The program benefits the city and the department.

"Their life expectancy is 15 years less than general population," Sheinberg said. "And the staggering statistic: within 5 years after they retire, 50 percent of officers will suffer a heart attack."

"To be able to go to the doctor and be seen right away gets you back on the streets faster to work," Crossen said.

And it gets Crossen back to doing what he loves most.

The program benefits the city and the department.

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