As a member of the Academy of Molecular Imaging, I visited Senator Kennedy at the Capitol Building in the Fall of 2003. Our group was hoping to get Medicare’s approval for the use an expensive diagnostic test known as Positron Emission Tomography (PET) for the evaluation of Alzheimer’s Disease. Toward that end, we had come to Washington D.C. to ask Kennedy for his help and guidance.
The Senator – known for his impassioned advocacy for improved healthcare in America and for his ability to get things done in Congress – gave us ample time to state our case. He invited us into his office (where we saw many photos and artifacts commemorating his family’s legacy), then led us to ex-President Clinton’s conference room, where he listened as we explained the disease’s pathophysiology and how multimillion-dollar machines and expensive radiopharmaceuticals used in PET can help people with Alzheimer’s. The senator then restated our oratory, embracing the terminology, sounding as if he had gone to medical school himself. He told us that he’d get the job done.
To celebrate, I took some of the AMI members to see singer Lizz Wright perform at Blues Alley in Georgetown that night. Just as Senator Kennedy didn’t know much about PET before that day, my colleagues didn’t know much about jazz before that night. And like the Senator, she mesmerized us all. Because of that one fine day, my colleagues have become lifelong fans of both Kennedy and jazz . More importantly, Medicare approved PET for the evaluation of dementia a few months later. -Michael Fagien