Thursday, January 19, 2012

Medical Misadventures

I went to the local ghetto clinic a couple weeks ago for two reasons: one, I had picked up some sort of nasty sinus/upper respiratory infection that I just couldn't shake, and two, my ghetto "doctor" isn't capable of doing simple math and had screwed up one of my prescriptions. This is nothing new, of course. The ghetto clinic has a history with us of screwing up prescriptions, ignoring the main reason for a visit in favor of focusing on trivialities, losing things, and just generally being incompetent.

But my latest visit really takes the cake. It may be my last visit if I can find an actual doctor somewhere in the area that is taking new, uninsured patients. I expect that to be an impossible quest, but that is a whole 'nother post.

The ghetto clinic has been in the process of a major, multi-million dollar, taxpayer-funded, remodel since we moved here. The remodel is now complete. It is a disaster. The lobby is completely nonfunctional, not to mention a HIPAA nightmare. My visit starts at 8:45am (appointment time is 9:00am) standing in a queue to sign in. There is no place for the queue that doesn't block the entrance, the door to the ghetto pharmacy, the hallway back to the waiting area or all of the above when everyone without a previous appointment bum-rushes the front counter when the ghetto clinic first opens. Arguments over who's next are common and it is impossible to have the HIPAA-mandated privacy when speaking with the person at the front counter.

Once I had run that little gauntlet (it is now 9:15am), I was told to have a seat in one of the dozen chairs in the lobby, which are already filled up and in any case would mean putting my face at ass-level with the mob at the front counter. So I stand leaning against the wall where I have an unobstructed view of the computer monitors displaying other patients' medical and financial information, and listening in on the conversations regarding patients' medical history and finances. Whoever designed the space needs to be beaten to death with a copy of the HIPAA law. I watch as several employees walk away from their computer terminals without locking them or blanking the screen. It's also obvious that there are massive computer system problems with a lone IT guy running around putting out fires.

At 9:40am, a woman who must have formerly been employed in a fish market screams out my name indicating it's now my turn to have my medical history and financial information on display for the benefit of everyone in the lobby. The only person unable to see the computer screen is me. I sit down then wait for a full five minutes of typing and mouse clicking before the person acknowledges that I exist. The "conversation" goes something like this:

Medical Person: Are you Richard Frost?
Me: Yes.
(Several minutes of typing and mousing.)
Medical Person: Is Debbie still your emergency contact?
Me: Yes.
(Several more minutes of typing and mousing.)
Medical Person: Is [redacted] still your main phone number?
Me: Yes.
(Several more minutes of typing and mousing.)
Medical Person: Is [redacted] still your secondary phone number?
Me: Yes
(Several more minutes of typing and mousing.)
Medical Person: Today's visit will cost you $20.

I hand over my credit card, she swipes it and hands it back followed by several MORE minutes of typing and mousing. Finally she hands me my receipt and points me to the waiting room. She manages to complete the entire 20-minute process without once making eye contact.

It is now 10:00am; it has taken me an hour and a quarter just to get to the waiting room. Fortunately, my butt didn't even hit the chair before another female ex-fish merchant screams out my name. While she takes my vitals, I get a running commentary about how slow reception is due to the new computer system not working and how the medical staff are all standing around waiting for patients to trickle back. As she leaves the exam room, she practically collides with the "doctor" coming in, making for a novel experience: no secondary wait while sitting in the exam room. The "doctor" takes a quick listen to my lungs and prescribes antibiotics then asks what else I need. I tell him I need my prescriptions fixed because he obviously failed math in college. He responds by pulling up my old lab results and regaling me with how perfect everything is except my blood sugar.

Um, duh? We've already had this discussion. How about rewriting my prescriptions correctly? He goes on about how I need to "take control" of my diabetes. I tell him I would love to except his ghetto pharmacy is withholding my insulin forcing me to ration what little I can get out of them. I then get a lecture about how I have it all wrong and what nice people work in the ghetto pharmacy. He must be thinking of a different ghetto pharmacy than the one in the ghetto clinic, but I just inform him that we will agree to disagree on that point and can he please just correct the prescriptions he screwed up?

Finally, I escape. Sort of. At least that whole thing was the shortest part of my adventure so far at a mere ten minutes. He sent off the corrected scripts for my regular meds to Walgreen's, but I had to get my antibiotic at the ghetto pharmacy to get the Poor Person Price. So I go into the pharmacy to stand in line to turn in my prescription. Why my prescription can be sent electronically to Walgreens ten miles away, but I have to queue to turn in a paper script to the ghetto pharmacy in the same building is not explained. Must be a feature of the new computer system. Anyway. The ghetto pharmacy is another space with no place to queue, so it ends up being a mob blocking the door into the pharmacy. I turn in my script, then sit to wait with my face in the asses of people waiting to turn in their scripts. An hour later (it's now 11:15am), I get called up to the counter to pay $10 for an empty bag with instructions to have a seat because the pharmacist needs to speak to me. Holy frackin' crap. So back to the face-ass position for another 45 minutes. After enduring a five-minute explanation of how a Z-Pack works, I finally make the dash to my car. It is 12:05pm.

But the fun isn't over yet. I go to Walgreens to pick up my other prescriptions only to find out that my asshat "doctor" has yet-again screwed up the same prescription. I ask the pharmacist if she can please call over the ghetto clinic and fix it. She says she'll take care of it. A couple days later, I get an e-mail saying my prescription is in, but the count is still wrong. I head over to Walgreens to see what in bloody hell is up now. The answer: My ghetto "doctor" is holding my prescription hostage because he wants me to come in and do my labs. My labs aren't due until May. But what the hell; it only costs me $15 (the rest being billed to the taxpayers) and it's not like I have anything better to do than spend hours and hours standing in line at the ghetto clinic. I'm just another one of those poors after all.

And the elites wonder why poor people routinely go nuts on "service providers".


Hadashi said...

Hang in there! Thank heavens I'm healthy.

Ric said...

Thanks! We just need to get off our lazy butts and find an alternative. The clinic was recommended because it was cheap. (To us, anyway; the taxpayers would likely have a different word for it.) Guess we're getting what we paid for.