Let me at the healthcare system.

June 18, 2010 at 9:22 pm 2 comments

If you’ve known me for longer than – say – 30 minutes or so, or if you’ve been a regular reader of the blog, then you know I am a woman with many pet peeves. Top of the list of Things That Make Amy’s Head Spin is People Who Waste My Time.

When I worked, these people were often frequent meeting setters.  They would schedule a plethora of pointless, endless meetings.  More than once I sat through a meeting about a meeting.  Makes.  Me.  CRAZY.

Now that I’m home with my girls, I have the dubious distinction of spending more time in waiting rooms, schlepping my girls to various appointments where we are often made to wait.   I may not have a job, and my schedule may be flexible, but it doesn’t mean I don’t have other things to get to, so let’s just hurry this along, thank you very much.

Doctors have a bad reputation for making people wait.  I have to say, though, that my doctor’s office rarely makes me wait any longer than 15 minutes, which I count as a good record.  I can recall only one instance in which I was made to cool my heels in an exam room for nearly an hour, wearing nothing but one of those ugly gowns that exposes your butt no matter how much you wrap it around you.  Turns out the doctor was delivering a baby.  This kind of delay could be expected when you’re primary doctor is also an OB.  (Which reminds me – I owe an apology to those patients whose appointments were delayed when my doctor had to deliver my babies in the middle of the work day.  Sorry ’bout that.)

Dentists, on the other hand, have not a good track record with me.  We actually switched dentists a year ago after I was made to wait for nearly an hour for a cleaning appointment.  The receptionist knew I was getting steamed and kept apologizing and “checking on progress.”  It wasn’t the first time it had happened.  It also wasn’t the only reason we switched to a new dentist, but it was definitely the straw that broke the proverbial camel.

And waiting doesn’t just take place in the waiting room at dentists’ offices.  They don’t get in a hurry about ANYTHING there.  I guess they don’t have anywhere else to be for the next eight hours, and you’re captive in the chair, so you’re on their timetable now.  Nothing sucks more than a dental hygienist who is very thorough but very time inefficient.

I’ll admit to being a bit easier on people if the appointment is for me and I have been able to leave my kids elsewhere while I see to my business.  In those cases, I’m usually armed with current reading material and happy for an extra fifteen minutes of “alone” time, even if it’s wearing the aforesaid ugly gown in an exam room somewhere.  However, if the appointment is for one of my children – meaning they are with me – we’d better get in ON TIME or as close to it as possible.  I’ve heard they used to torture people in medieval times by putting them in a waiting room for long periods with a preschooler and a toddler.

As you may have already guessed, this is on my mind because Alissa had a dentist appointment today.  This was her first visit to the dentist.  I strategically chose a pediatric dentist because I figured they GET IT about working with kids.  And for the most part, they were great.  They were patient when she had a mini-meltdown before the exam, the hygienist found out early on that Alissa likes princesses and presented her with a princess toothbrush, and the dentist himself had a great chair side manner.

The problem was in getting started.  Alissa’s appointment was at 9:30, so I arrived at 9:20.  (An aside about me: I am genetically programmed to arrive at any appointment, meeting, or previously scheduled program ten minutes before I’m supposed to be there.  It is an affliction that affects my entire family of origin.  I am, interestingly, married to a man who is genetically programmed to arrive at a given function ten minutes after he is supposed to be there.  Go figure.)

It took me about five minutes to check in and fill out the paperwork.  And then we waited.  Fortunately the waiting room was geared toward kids; one whole corner had playstation games, books, a few toys, and other things to play with on the walls.  A cartoon was playing on one of the TVs.  My grandma – God bless her – was watching Ashley, because I recognize my limitations and knew that I was going to have my hands full coaxing Alissa through her first dentist visit.

We waited for ten minutes.  And then, as usually happens, Alissa had to go to the potty, so we traipsed back there.  I had hopes they would be ready for us by the time we got out of the bathroom.  Nope.  Ten more minutes.  By this time, it is 9:55.  My brow must have furrowed about then, because Alissa actually asked me, “Mommy, are you mad at me?”  Nope, Tweety, just annoyed at the system.

I went to the counter to inquire about an ETA (estimated time of appointment).  “Let me check,” the receptionist told me, in a not-so-warm manner that indicated I was putting her out greatly.  “They’re just getting a chair ready for her now,” she said when she showed back up at the desk.  Then she put her head down and went back to the work.

Okay, now I have something to hold onto.  They’re getting a chair ready for her.  Any minute now.  Here we go.  Yep, we’re going soon…

Um, yeah, fifteen minutes later and we’re still sitting there.

I start making deals in my head.  If they don’t call us in five minutes, we’re leaving.  This despite the fact that I know Alissa really needs to have this appointment.  And sure enough, two minutes before my imposed deadline, they call us back.  The entire appointment takes around 45 minutes.  We waited to get in one minute less than the appointment actually took.

And the thing is, I get that you have to be flexible with time when kids are involved.  I know we took an extra ten minutes of their time just trying to convince Alissa that lying in the chair wouldn’t hurt.  And Alissa didn’t know any differently; she actually had a good time in the waiting room.  I’m the one that needed a blood pressure check by the time the appointment started.

It’s just a little thing that’s indicative of larger inefficiencies in the healthcare system.  I should run medical offices; the first thing I’d do is a complete overhaul of the scheduling process.  I think I’ll call a meeting about that.  Maybe we’ll talk about plans for our future meetings.


Entry filed under: Life in general.

Yes, I'm finally admitting it: I'm not perfect. Mickey has moved in with us.

2 Comments Add your own

  • […] posted earlier this summer about Alissa’s first trip to the dentist.  What I didn’t tell you in that post is that Alissa had some issues.  As in, cavities. […]

  • 2. Dental issues « Blankies & Booboos  |  September 10, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    […] posted earlier this summer about Alissa’s first trip to the dentist.  What I didn’t tell you in that post is that Alissa had some issues.  As in, cavities. […]


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