Bedside Manners

After four long years of being one of the millions of uninsured in America, I am happy to report that I finally have health insurance. And having waited so long and suffered through every allergy, cold, ache and pain with no help but from my best friend, NyQuil, I am unconscionably excited to catch up with doctor’s visits.

Step one, I printed out lists and lists of dentists, doctors, optometrists, acupuncturists, chiropractors, you name it, and went about the business of making some decisions. No easy task (and made none easier by a medical community who seems largely to shun the internet), but I managed to make two appointments, all before my insurance card was even printed.

I made my DDS decision based on the dental practice having a great website with loads of helpful information and bios on all the dentists. I called the office and had a pleasant experience setting up the appointment. I went for my visit yesterday at lunch, and it was even better than I’d imagined – the office was modern and impeccable, the staff was warm and friendly, and my dentist was a hoot and a holler. The visit was efficient, yet not the least bit rushed. A home run all around! The doc commented on my galoshes (it was a monster slushy day yesterday) and said that if every patient was like me, he’d be out of business (in other words, no cavities, ma!). I wanted to make my next appointment right there on the spot, I was so gung-ho for my next cleaning.

The MD, on the other hand, was a strike out. Which is super disappointing given that a) she was highly recommended by a friend, b) I had a list of things I wanted to talk about, c) it’ll be a year before I can switch docs (insurance only covers one exam per year), d) I commuted an hour (while sick) to see her, and e) to top it off, I had a referral from my beloved doc back west that I ignored in favor of this lady, who sounded like she’d be gyno of the year. (To her credit, she did seem quite nice in the FIVE whole minutes she spent with me.)

That said, I’ll admit I arrived 24 minutes late (how was I to know that school lets out at 3pm and every child in Manhattan takes the metro bus home?), and for all I know, the doc would have devoted those 24 minutes to me. But why make excuses for her? I’m inclined to think that a doctor who cares (especially with a first-time patient that she has a lot to get know about) would bridge the gap and spend say, 15 minutes with me, or ask me to come back for the other 95% of my appointment on another day.

In hindsight, I should have known this wasn’t going to work out from the beginning. When I called to make the appointment the receptionist was edgy. That wasn’t a good sign, and normally I would have stopped right there and not gone further, but I brushed it off due to my friend’s praise for this doctor. Today, when I called en route to say I was going to be late, the woman on the other end of the line seemed confused/distracted, but she said “ok, I’ll tell the doctor,” so I assumed it was ok. When I got there, it was not ok. The receptionist was a sociopath who greeted me with, “You’re a half an hour late. The grace period is a half an hour. The doctor can’t see you (with an inflection that indicated the last word of that sentence in her head was actually ‘bitch’). Long story short, after two phone calls where she loudly complained about “new patients always coming in late” and “I gotta look for a new job, this is ridiculous!,” I was allowed to fill out paperwork (which she hadn’t bothered to ready in advance of my arrival or while she had me sitting there for 15 minutes), pre-pay $20, and have my appointment. I didn’t get weighed, my blood pressure wasn’t checked, no bloodwork was done. The nurse came in for less than one minute to lay out a vial for the doctor. Then came my speed racer checkup, and I was out the door in a fraction of the time it took me to get to the office one-way.

I want a refund.

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