Patients patiently waiting for their 9 o’clock appointments
The guy who designed the interior of the Mountainside Medical Center Building deserves a special place in hell. The halls are twisted. They are contra intuitive. They are pedestrian unfriendly and confusing.
Mountainside is not the only medical place like that. Time was you got to sit in the doctor’s waiting room where you could catch what everyone else jammed in carried. The waiting room was right next to the exam room. Open the door, turn right or left and there you were.
Not so today. First you check in. They ask do you have your insurance card? You say yes and wait. Then they ask you if they may see it. You comply. They look at it. They look at you as if to check if you’re the person in the photo ID, but there are no photo IDs on most insurance cards. They check anyway.
And then, they tell you to take a seat in the waiting room and “someone will be with you shortly.” This never varies. It’s like you need to memorize the line during your first semester at Famous Medical Clerks’ Institute.
It’s like the waiters who always ask to clear your dinnerware by saying “let me get these out of your way,” and who respond to your order by saying either “no problem” (class of ’18 at Famous Table Workers’ University or “perfect!” (class of ’19.) This provokes one of two possible questions:
1. What WOULD be a problem? Or
2. Have you tried the Fryed Oysters and Broccoli with chocolate sauce?
Back to Mountainside. You sit and wait. Finally someone shows up carrying paper work and calls your name. First name if you’re a woman, Mr. so-and-so if you’re a man.
You follow her (it’s almost always a “her) through a labyrinth that leads to a maze that leads to a group of exam rooms from which, eventually, you’ll need a St. Bernard with a cask hanging from his neck to lead you out.
Then, the medical third degree. While Kindly Old Doc had your records on a pack of dog-eared 3x5 cards, it’s now on a computer. And there’s never a day when the nurse or aid can’t say “sorry for the delay, the computer is running slow today.” Three by five cards never “run slow.”
“Any change in your medicines?”
You mean since two days ago when we were most recently here?”
You go through your litany of medical complaints and then the data entry clerk tells you “The doctor will be with you shortly.” It’s plain that data entry clerks have also attended Famous Intake Clerks’ Institute.
Again, you wait. Then, there’s a knock on the door and enters… you thought I was going to say the doctor. Think again. It’s a student in the Physicians Assistant school. Surprise! Even more of a surprise, he or she is personable, attentive, sympathetic and as thorough as any MD who ever has looked you over.
The student takes notes. That’s what students do. Then he consults with the doctor who eventually shows up, examines you – often less thoroughly than the student assistant and confirms the diagnosis.
He says “Hmmm.” Every doctor says “hmmm.” There’s a course in hmmm at every medical school from lofty Harvard to Ace Autobody U. He says he’s going to give you the new wonder drug Gladex that you see advertised every ten minutes on TV. Gladex is a pill to make you feel happy. And he gives you the prescription, but not the medicine. That, you have to pay for.
Actually, he doesn’t even give you the prescription. He sends an electronic version to your drug store.
Then you go to checkout. If you can reverse your way out of the maze and then the labyrinth. They no longer allow St. Bernards in medical facilities.
Your parting thought is “where did I park.”
I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2019