It started with a tragic comic joke decades ago. A good friend with serious heart trouble checked into a hospital so puny and terrible we called it Astoria Medical Center and Exxon Station. A combination hospital and auto repair shop where they rolled the patients out of the bays to fix cars by day and rolled them back inside at night.
Eventually, this was refined to Central Medical Center and Jiffy Lube. But the deal was the same.
Now life imitates art.
We rolled into the parking lot of an auto repair shop the other day thinking we had made a mistake. It has open bays exposed to the weather. Old Beater-mobiles in each. This was the address the doctor provided. So something must be wrong. Maybe a misprint on a website? Maybe the patient wrote down a wrong address.
Nope. This was it. Kindly Old Doc’s office was in the indoor part of a place that does oil changes and tuneups.
Right near the doc’s check-in window, there’s a sign that says something about patients should forgive delays because they’ll get the same kind of extended attention when their turn arrives. Not a good sign.
The office is filled with fellow oldsters. I appear to be the youngest of them.
They’re sitting around talking about... the things people talk about. Like life on their farms and moose hunting.
The appointment was for 10:30 a.m. The clock said 10:20. Asked about delays, the receptionist said “oh, 45 minutes, tops.” I fill out all the “first visit” paper work.
Forty five minutes pass. No one has been called in for examination. No one has left an exam room.
There are stacks of files placed in what appear to be random piles. A radio is playing. Bonnie Tyler, “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” Passable.
An hour goes by. There is some movement. I’m expecting a fleet of ambulances to remove comatose patients cluttering the exam rooms. Wrong. Everyone who left was at least borderline mobile. No fleet of ambulances. But the exodus had begun at last. That is to say occasionally someone hobbles out and someone else is called to hobble in.
An hour and 15 minutes. A stack of files falls over and the doc and all the assistants gather to return them to stacked condition. Random pieces of paper remain on the floor. No award for excellence in record-keeping here.
Ninety minutes. Bee Gees on the radio. “I Started a Joke.” But 90 minutes wait is no joke.
I get up to leave. Tell the receptionist “toss out my paperwork, okay? I don’t have this much time to waste.”
She says “Hold on. You’re next.” Ninety minutes is obscene. I leave. The car is blocked by a truck delivering auto parts to the main tenant.
Wow and happiness, still more waiting! And a chance to inspect the rot and termite damage on the pillars holding up the indoor/outdoor service bays.
Gotta find a place where the waiting room chatter isn’t about hunting moose and occasionally someone sees a patient.
Or at least a medical office attached to an auto repair shop with an actual indoors.
I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2014