Dr. Diana Girnita


Dr. Diana Girnita - Rheumatologist OnCall

Diana Girnita, MD, PhD, FACR

Double Board Certified in Rheumatology & Internal Medicine

Here, you are a person—not a disease.

I founded Rheumatologist OnCall® to give people with inflammatory arthritis and other rheumatic and autoimmune conditions easier, faster and more affordable access to specialized care.

Waiting as much as 6 months to get a diagnosis and treatment plan is unacceptable. Health fears and untreated pain are incredibly stressful for patients.

And delayed treatment of autoimmune and inflammatory conditions can cause permanent organ damage.

Time is of the essence, so I created this practice to get you from diagnosis to treatment to feeling better as quickly as possible.

Here, you communicate directly with me, your physician. I am your doctor.

I treat you as a person—not a patient, not a number, not a case. There are no gatekeepers—no medical assistant, no nurse, no front desk, and no insurance company.

Don’t be surprised when I answer your calls myself, when I call you in the evening to follow up, when a holiday greeting card from me appears in your mailbox.

From Patient to Physician-Scientist

At age 10, I was admitted to the hospital for severe liver disease. After many more admissions, and many hours in the hospital, I felt called to the practice of medicine and became the first physician and the first university graduate in my Romanian family.

I loved caring for patients. Yet medical research also fascinated me, because it investigated underlying causes and new treatments for chronic diseases. So after completing my cardiology residency, I left Romania and arrived as a PhD student and postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University. 

I could not believe it. Me, a simple girl from a small town in Romania! 

A friend lent me airfare to the United States. My parents sold a parcel of land and tucked $2000 in my pocket. I felt rich until I quickly realized that I barely had enough money for a month’s rent and food.

I immersed myself in cardiovascular research at Harvard for the next year, then accepted a postdoctoral research position at the world-famous University of Pittsburgh’s Starzl Transplantation Institute, home of the world’s first liver transplant.

There I coordinated a six-university study of pediatric transplant immunology that earned awards at many national and international conferences.

Yet I missed my patients! So I resumed clinical training, first completing an internal medicine residency and then graduating from the University of Cincinnati’s rheumatology fellowship program.

Why I Founded Rheumatologist OnCall®

Practicing rheumatology in hospitals and traditional medical practices made me quickly realize that patients often had to wait months and travel long distances for their appointments.

When I met with patients, I wanted to educate them about their conditions and how they could blend medical treatment with nutrition, mindfulness, and physical activity to minimize the effects of their diagnosis.

But there was no time.

Billing received more attention than patient care. The quantity of patients seen counted more than the quality of care.

Worried patients would ask about outrageous charges and surprise bills for their care. Yet as a physician, I had no visibility to what they paid. When I asked, it was described as “confidential hospital information.”

Often, patients and I would establish successful care plans only to have them fall apart when their insurance company denied coverage or renegotiated contracts.

Worst of all, I saw crisis after crisis that could have been avoided, had doctors simply been able to treat patients properly.

This was not the kind of medicine that I wanted to practice.

I wanted to see patients when they needed me most. 

I didn’t want to force people in pain to drive hundreds of miles just to reach a city with a rheumatologist. And I didn’t want my patients awake at night worried about medical bills.

So in 2019, after months of research, I launched Rheumatologist OnCall®, a direct-pay medical practice.

I provide in-person and telehealth rheumatology here in Irvine, CA and throughout our 8-state service area. No travel costs, no wasted time.

We charge fair prices and offer low-cost imaging and labs. Patients pay the practice directly—no insurance companies, no prior authorizations, no deductibles, no copayments, no exorbitant fees.

Our patients have the best of both worlds: the expert rheumatological care they need, when they need it, while keeping their regular medical insurance for other healthcare needs.

This is the kind of medicine I dreamed of practicing when I was a little girl in Romania, and I’m proud to be recognized as a leader in the direct-pay model for healthcare.

Today, I still have one foot in research and the other in medical practice. I constantly review the latest medical, diagnostic and drug breakthroughs that can relieve pain and slow or halt disease progression. I’ve completed Stanford’s Nutrition Science program for health professionals and studied meditation with Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD and internationally-known founder of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care & Society at the University of Massachusetts School of Medicine.

At the same time, I teach patients every day how to make the most of their capabilities and reduce their need for prescription medication with evidence-based nutrition, mindfulness and physical activity.

I’ve always been fascinated by the connections among our minds, our bodies, our immune systems, and how we fuel ourselves. Approaching medical care the same way seems like the most natural choice of all.