The other day I went to yet another new specialist, this time an hour and a half’s drive from home. So three hours total travel time for the day. I don’t mind traveling to see specialists, I am willing to try anything at this point, and to travel anywhere my coverage allows. The total time for appointment, four hours: 3 hours drive time, 40 minute wait, for a 20 minute appointment. That’s half a day for one appointment. I once overheard reception at another medical facility tell a patient that they ‘wished they had time to read a magazine’, to a patient inquiring about the wait time to see the doctor. Yes how fortunate we are to lose a half-days work to be able to read 18 month old tabloid trash.
As usual, I google street-viewed the location prior to the visit, and determed it was it a medical facility adjacent to a hospital, so assumed the accessibility would be decent. Though as the visit would most likely involve medical waiting rooms and long corridors typical in such establishments, the walker was a must. As the office I was going to was Suite 104, I hoped that meant no stairs to carry the walker up.
Once at the facility I was lucky to find the final available spot in the parking lot, though not a disabled spot. The lot was of the ‘take your ticket with you’ variety, where you pay at a machine prior to leaving and then have a 15-minute grace period to get your car out of the lot (for many people with disabilities, this time restriction can be difficult). The machine only accepts credit cards. This is not uncommon at hospitals and medical facilities, and even our local university will not accept cash at their manned parking lots, only debit or credit card. Most people on O.D.S.P. are unable to have credit cards, and some do not have debit cards or bank accounts. This all due, of course, to the disproportionate amount of people with disabilities who live below the poverty level, but that is another blog, for another day.
Upon arrival at the doctor’s office I was visiting, I registered with the staff-member manning the reception window, and received a form to fill out. Unfortunately, my penmanship has declined markedly due to my tremors. I wish they had this form available on their website to download prior to visiting. Being accustomed to such forms, I always have a list of medications with me, but had forgotten to print out the ‘medical records’ I have created for myself to assist when filling out these dreaded forms. Medications taken, doctors visited, medical diagnoses and conditions, family medical history, and list of on-going symptoms. When I remember these, I am often able to simply hand them back with the form not completed, but the information detailed and legible. So today, the agonizing form is my fault.
I arrive ten minutes early to the appointment, and wait 40 past my appointment time to see the doctor. I am lucky. The woman beside me has already waited more than an hour, and has a much worse experience. After patiently waiting an hour, this woman approaches the reception window to be told that they have been trying to reach the medical office upstairs to get her records sent down, but the line has been continually busy (sadly, this is also commonplace for medical offices , and we will touch more on this later). The woman quickly offers to go upstairs and get the records herself, a suggestion that meets with approval from the staff member. She is gone and back with the records within five minutes, and in to see the doctor in another twenty. About an hour and twenty-five minutes that could have taken five with a pro-active approach by the staff member. Most likely more than her lunch hour, or whatever time-off she had arranged with her employer.
The waiting room itself is large, with lots of reading material (read: germ spreaders), a television set to the twenty-four hour news update station and plenty of chairs, not even half of which were occupied at any time during our visit. Unfortunately, nobody had had the foresight to remove any of the chairs to accommodate people with walkers or wheelchairs, requiring anyone using one to be either in the aisle way or blocking access to reading materials. Simply removing a few chairs and leaving spaces in the waiting room to accommodate these assistive devices benefits everyone else using the space.
There were about six doctors sharing the waiting room, and during our wait, a door would open occasionally and someone would call the name of the next patient. “Sally Smith”, “Joe Jones”, “Mr. Miller”, etc. At one point during my wait, the door opened and the staff –member said “Can you bring Mr. Labelle in to the office please” to the person accompanying Mr. Miller, who happened to be seated in a wheelchair. I admit, I almost lost my s*it, but decided addressing the issue at that moment would only degrade Mr. Labelle’s dignity further. The staff member might as well have said “Please bring Mr. Object into the office”. YOU SPEAK TO THE PATIENT. You say, “Mr. Labelle please come in” the same as you have for every other patient. YOU SPEAK TO THE PATIENT. The person with Mr. Labelle will know to ‘bring’ Mr. Labelle in when you call Mr. Labelle’s name. I promise.