Dr. Weeks’ Comment: Thanks Anne for the thoughtful note. It was generous of you to write down for the record how pleased you are with our care.
We at the Weeks Clinic are happy to serve exclusively our patients. Tragically, in America today, most doctors work for the people who pay them, i.e. the insurance company and, again, tragically, NOT the suffering patient. In my opinion, that is a core problem with health care and was totally ignored in the reform effort.
As for the rest of you, dear readers, take a minute and say thanks to someone in your life. It is a nice deed and makes the heart light!
LETTER FROM A PATIENT 1-5-09
To anyone fed up with American Health Care?
Yesterday I was in a pinch. I needed medication for a trip 3 days hence.
I called my primary care physician, part of a well-respected clinic, an arm of the local hospital. I asked to speak to my pcp’s nurse.
I had to go through a bit of an interview:
Is that your last name?
Is the nurse expecting your call?
Does she have your chart?
What do you want to talk to her about?
I live in a lightly populated area with about 2.5 degrees of separation with every other resident. I do not want to tell a receptionist or operator my medical business. I said my issue was private and I’d tell that to the nurse, to which I got a surprised reply.
I was on hold for 20 minutes, then someone came on the line and asked me all the above questions again, getting the same answers. I got the same surprise at my claiming privacy over my medical issue.
This operator said the nurse’s line was clear so she’d put me through. Instead I was on hold another 10 minutes. When an operator/receptionist finally rescued me, she said I couldn’t talk to the nurse till she had my chart. I said she might have it by now, since it had been 30 minutes since I first called. She said the nurse would call me back.
I waited 3 hours and called back. Again she would not put me through and said the nurse would call me. Of course I went through the same interview as before.
I waited 1 hour and called and said, I will be leaving. “Until noon, 12:00, please have her call my home phone. After 12:00 have her call my cell.”
As I was leaving the house at 12:10, my sister called on my home phone. I wasn’t worried because I’d instructed the nurse to call my cell. While on the line with my sister, call waiting beeped and I hung up to get that call. Too late. It was the nurse calling the wrong number. I called back immediately. She was now on a call with another patient. Even though I was furious, I kept my cool, knowing that any display of temper might alienate the all-powerful receptionist/gatekeeper and put me even further down the list. I wondered what was happening to my blood pressure.
Meanwhile, I’d called Dr. Weeks’ office. Annabet recognized my name, didn’t stonewall me, and found a way for me to see Dr. Weeks that same day.
By 1:30, I had had a nice chat with Dr. Weeks in which he honored both my experience as a health care professional and my vigilance regarding my own health. I had new information and the prescriptions I needed. When the pharmacy was out of one of my meds, the clinic said for me to come back, they had another plan.
I’m trying to imagine what my pcp’s clinic would have done had my meds been unavailable at the pharmacy–nothing, except another interview when I called them. By the way, that nurse has still not called me back.
I’ve often thought that the attitude of the receptionist reflects the attitude of the doctors and the spirit of the facility.
Thank God for Dr. Weeks and his humane clinic.