Saturday, August 2, 2008

Bad Behavior

Miserably hot and humid today. Just those words don't convey what it's like to be inside, to open the door, and have the heat hit you like an open hand. Or how breathing is an odd sensation because of the hot air going into your lungs. Plus the humidity that brings out the sweat the moment you're outside.

Thank god for air conditioning.

There's a new person next door now; a big middle-aged white woman sitting on the deck and smoking a cigarette. She's a new one. Maybe she's a babysitter.

I behaved very badly this week. I had to go to a clinic within a series of clinics for a procedure. Good doctors but otherwise the place is a nightmare. My appointment was at 2:30; I got there at 2:28 because, of course, there was no place to park.

I signed in and took a seat. There was no one at the desk and maybe 12 people scattered around the waiting area. At 2:45 something told me I'd better check that someone somewhere knew I was there. The clerk was nice and said I should be waiting in another room, off to the left.

So I trot off to the other office and tell the clerk who I am. A tech came in and the clerk said, "Your three o'clock is here." And the tech took them back.

"Why did the three o'clock people get taken before me?" I asked.

The clerk continued typing. "You weren't here."

"Yes, I was," I protested. "At two thirty. Right out there." I pointed to the waiting area.

"Did you register, ma'am?"

"Yes, I signed in." I'm still calm and willing to be polite but I'm not happy that I'll probably have to wait an extra hour because the three o'clock patients got taken before me. I handed her my insurance card.

She kept typing, then took my card and made a copy. "Did you register," she repeated.

Again, I said, "I signed in when I got here at 2:30. No one was at the counter."

"Did you register out in the hall?"


"You have to register before we can see you. The desk is outside on the left."

That's when I lost my patience. It was now three o'clock. I held up the papers they'd sent me, telling me what floor and time and so on. "This doesn't say anything about reporting outside! If you want people to go outside first, you have to tell them that. This doesn't say anything about that."

"You still have to register outside," she said. I'm surprised she didn't throw me out.

So I go stomping out of the office, go out in the hall, and see an Information kiosk, staffed with a young woman and an older woman. "Is this where I'm supposed to register?"

I tossed my insurance card on the counter, and the young woman took it. Then I went into my tirade about wasting people's time and if they want patients to report someplace they'd have to tell people. It's not like a state secret. I knew I was acting like an ass, but I was so angry I couldn't stop. The older woman smiled at me, and I curtly told her it wasn't funny and people shouldn't be treated like this. But both women were professional and didn't order me out of town or call security or anything. I could see on her face that I'd really pissed off the younger woman who was inputting the info, though.

Then I stomped back to the smaller waiting room and sat down and irritably picked up a two-year-old magazine.

A young man came in and called my name. "How are you today? We haven't seen you in a couple of years." After realizing what an ass I'd been I made an effort to get my blood pressure down.

"I'm not too happy right now," I told him. I waved the papers at him and went through my spiel about instructions for patients. He nodded kindly and said he understood.

I only "lost" a half hour, so it wasn't as bad as I thought it as going to be. The procedure went well and the staff were great.

I have such a low tolerance for bureaucratic bullshit -- everywhere in this place which is connected to zillions of other medical offices we have to fill out the same forms over and over, make the same copies of insurance cards, fill out the same damn histories, waiting times are usually in the hours (this clinic is the exception), and you're shuffled around like cattle. It just enrages me at all the money that flows through that place and how administration continually talks about patient satisfaction and quality care, and then treats people like an inconvenience. They treat people as badly as airlines treat passengers.

Normally I am nice to people in service areas; I know they don't make the big bucks and the systems that don't work aren't their fault.

Anyway, I feel bad about my outburst. I've got a meeting near that clinic Monday, so I think I need to stop by and apologize.

1 comment:

Mary said...

I know how your frustration and anger can get the better of you. Last month I left a message for someone and was quite snotty -- not like myself at all, and I made myself call later and apologize for being out of control. Of course I also started crying. Ugh.

Glad you were finally able to be seen and didn't lose too much time!