Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Hello. May I speak to a human, please?

I really like my primary care physician. He's young (very... VERY young), he's enthusiastic, he's sweet and concerned, and he is a good listener. He always brings in a senior doctor just to make sure he's covered everything, he has such a gentle touch, and he's got a good sense of humor. All in all, I'm quite satisfied with my health care where he is concerned.

However, and didn't you know that there was a however coming? However, the way his office is run is shameful. I mean it, I could go on and on ad nauseum about how poorly the office conducts business. They have a gorgeous office with original photographs that must have cost an arm and a leg. The furniture is comfy and clean. They always have a lot of current magazines, although their choices don't necessarily mirror mine. Fishing magazines? Body building magazines? Blech. Give me a nice copy of Us or People, please. The office appears to be bustling, well run, and efficient.

It is none of the above. The women at the reception desk spend most of their time gossiping with each other and the other office workers who drift in and out of their area. They do not know what is going on and never notice when someone has been sitting and waiting for over an hour. This has happened to be twice, both times I had to leave without having seen the doctor because he was running late and they never bothered to find out that piece of information for me.

Once inside the inner sanctum and enshrined in an exam room, you can be left for another hour without anyone checking up on your or informing you just when the doctor might grace you with his presence. It drives me insane that this happens so often.

But what really gets my goat, what really makes steam pour out of my ears is that you cannot get a human being on the phone. Ever. If you call to ask for a prescription refill you have to leave all the information on the phone 48 hours in advance of when you need the meds. If you need to speak to a nurse, again you leave your information and she may or may not deign to call you back. Usually not. If you want to speak to your doctor, good freaking luck! The only way I have ever figured out how to actually get to my doctor is through his cell phone. Yes, his personal cell phone. He called me back on that phone, and from my caller ID I copied down his number. I know, it's not nice, but this is ridiculous. It's like he's locked in an ivory tower or something. He's a doctor. His job is to talk to his patients, not ignore them.

Last week, 3 days before I left for Washington, I left my prescription refill information on the phone line, telling them that I was leaving Friday morning and needed my prescriptions before I left. But CVS didn't have the prescriptions before I left. Nor did they have them upon my return. I called the refill line again, left the same information, and again waited the requisite 48 hours before checking in at CVS. No prescriptions. So I tried to call the nurses. I left a message asking them to please call me back. Did I hear from them? Oh come on. You know the answer. Of course I didn't hear from them! Because all the messages go into the void.

I left a second message. A not quite as nice one. About how I've been out of my diabetes medicine* for over a week, which was entirely their fault, and how they might consider actually having a human being be reachable over the phone. You know, to like, maybe make an effort to fix their screwups.

*I do have some diabetes medicine, it's just not the right kind, which means I have to take it much more often. But they don't know that. And I'm not planning to tell them, either. A little guilt might motivate them to get off the collective asses and return my phone calls.

Next step? I'm calling my doctor at home. Very late at night. Like maybe around 2 or 3 am. I'm just that annoyed.

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Blogger Daisy said...

ooo, the cell phone late at night -- I like it.

12/4/08 7:57 PM  

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