Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sucked into the machine

Where are we with Valley Medical?

Here we are:
  • Got 3 referral letters in the mail: speech therapy, rehab medicine, neurosurgery clinic. Was expecting the first one. The other two were mysteries...
  • Friday I called speech therapy 10 minutes before they closed up shop. You guessed it, I was put on hold and left to wither in the phone queue.
  • A certified letter came Saturday. They have been trying to reach me by phone, unsuccessfully, to give X-ray results. I need to go to the neurosurgery clinic. Ah, that explains the referral letter! (does this mean I need surgery on my neck?)
  • The letter also says the results of blood work they asked for are not recorded in their computer system. Right, when an appointment takes 3 hours and you're really really late for a bike ride, standing in line for another hour at the lab is not happening. It's just not. How about I just say the words: I don't have legal or illegal drugs in my system and I don't have Graves' disease. Would that work?
Yesterday I tested my luck by phoning the neurosurgery clinic. Talked to an extremely nice down-to-earth woman. Their first appointment is Jan 31 (!), so I took it. That is two-and-a-half months down the road. If my neck were an Apple product it would be obsolete by then.

She read back to me what's in the medical record. They want to discuss an approach to managing "structural changes" in my spine. OK, I can handle that. My neck isn't broken and there's no scalpel in my immediate future.

The young doctor (we'll call him Dr. T.) did not relay this information to me directly because they seem to have lost my phone number. My guess is, the passive-aggressive desk person deleted it from the system when I refused to give out Danny's birthdate. Mental note to follow up on that. Isn't this fun?

The nice woman also told me that I had a follow-up appointment scheduled for Jan 15. Oh. That explains the second referral letter. Good to know. Everyone else gets to be incompetent and this woman gets to fix their mistakes.

With this run of good luck, I decided to try again for a speech therapy appointment. It's been 3 weeks.

Talked to a woman who demanded my medical record number. Then demanded my name. "Elaine", I said. Knowing full well that the medical record number is a unique alphanumeric ID that acts as a key in the database. "Elaine who", she barked impatiently. "Elaine Astrue, the name associated with that medical record number ", I said. She huffed out the words "Speech therapy is still on hold" and the line went dead. Figuring this was an honest mistake I phoned back. She answered it "What can I DO for you, Elaine", proving she does know how to use Caller ID (and they do in fact have my phone number). I asked exactly what she had meant. What she meant was, they still haven't solved the problem by hiring more speech therapists. And frankly, if they have to work with this person the "why" part is becoming clear.

She asked if I wanted to call back next week. What's this, an IQ test? No, I don't want to waste my entire life calling Valley Medical at regular intervals until they finally get their shit together. Who actually wants that? Is it really appropriate to make someone who needs medical care to beg for it endlessly? This would be that role reversal thing that seems to happen. How about, we screw up on our end and you grovel for attention on your end, forever?  Oh yeah, sounds good to me!

I vented to her supervisor's voicemail. No response yet.

1 comment :

  1. Wow - she sounds like a real peach. Glad you got to talk to someone that treated you like a human being at the other place!
    I agree with you. They're supposed to be helping, but it seems like you have to wring it out of them!