Friday, April 27, 2007

Has Health Care Fallen Apart While I've Been Gone?

So - I dutifully schedule my son for his 4 yr check up as soon as I hit the ground in Pittsburgh in February. I happened upon Metro Family Practice through The Midwife Center, got Katherine Patterson whilst embroilled led in our first crisis. She saw my son the next day (when I was positively assured by ER HP that breastfeeding was not in our future) - and she instantly rectified that situation. She was so supportive, nurturing! But, she only works on Wednesdays. I love her. She has proven to be the most competent MD; exceptionally respectful of my questions; exuberantly supportive of my lifestyle choices; willing to give me a list of URLs when I'm in doubt....I can go on and on about why she is my MD of choice. The woman is the singular definition of Healer/Shaman embodied. So, I'm willing to work around her schedule.

But, today I get a call saying there has been a family emergency...she'll be away for a week. Okay - these things happen. I'm dreadfully and terribly sorry. How awful for her. I wish her all strength and wholeness. Jiminy Cricket! I was actually looking forward to the doctor's visit! I am so disappointed!

But - here is where I get cheeky about Metro Family Practice. I can not be anything other than vague, non-committal, verbally generous within the confines of polite conversation and generally non-plussed when it comes to their receptionists. The whole lot of them really need to up and move to London. They would thrive. They would excel. They would get the jollies that their private lives are not giving them by fucking up the lives of sick people because they are in a position of unique and deadly control. My father always taught me that I should understand that very few people experience anything resembling power in their own lives. As a result - they exercise it viciously at any moment there is an opportunity. Therefore - we should understand where they are coming from and give them no excuse to exercise it on us. But - I have given these bitches no reason to exercise it on me!

So - she calls today to cancel. I'm devastated and confused. I ask when we can re-schedule. She says June! So - an appointment I've had for 4 months is serendipitously changed because of fate. That is unfair! It is un-ethical. It is is Un-American - rather as you define it after living in the willy-nilly, deny-you-for-chuckles, laugh-as-you-hobble-from-ER-with-a-broken-toe UK health care system.

I want - and am paying for - something different. Recommendations?

4 comments:

Rebecca said...

Hi Christina,

Are you looking for a pediatrician or a family practice?

I can highly recommend my son's pediatrician.

Dr. Carl Hildebrandt at East Side Pediatrics is wonderful! He is very thorough and patient. Calm and reassuring. When my son was sick, I called the office with a million questions, and he and his staff were always very helpful. No trouble getting appointments. The office is in East Liberty (412) 363-7700

--Rebecca
(from the Farmhouse playground)

Mark said...

You're right, that is such a British experience.

I recently had a run in with a power crazed doctors' secretary. Whilst she was in the process of being rude, unhelpful, and dispensing wrong and unqualified medical advice herself rather than aranging for us to see a medical professional because she knew better, she also took time out to be condescending with another patient who could barely speak english and tell them that, without apology, their appointment wasn't on her books and they'd have to come back in a few hours.

Of course, other receptionists at the same surgery have been great - helpful, pleasant, and despite not being able to make up for the obvious failings of the NHS, good at their jobs.

The only advice I have to offer from someone who's used to dealing with a medical system that's terrible is see if you can speak to another receptionist. They really don't have the power they think they do.

Karen James said...

Hi Christina,

Carl Hildebrandt was our pediatrician too. I loved him and so did Ethan. He was always looking forward to going to the doctor's office--never in the least frightened. We rarely had to wait more than 5 minutes and he was always responsivejnahte to phone calls any time of the day. We both miss him and haven't found anyone as well suited to our needs here in Ithaca. He may not be what you are looking for, but I thought I would throw in my handful of pennies. K.

Christina Springer said...

Mark - Glad to hear it wasn't just me in the U.K. who found the NHS severely lacking. That's a good idea - asking for another receptionist.

Another is a peculiarly American response - change doctors. I think I'm going to do that. In about 3 years - Winston isn't going to like a lady poking about personal places. Thanks for the recommendations Rebecca and Karen.