Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Communication is important in healthcare...on every level

Now, which building is the middle one?

I had an ENT appointment this morning. When I arrived early for my appointment, I went through a gated, (wo)manned station to park. She asked who I was seeing. I told her. She let me through. I had to park in Timbuctoo, and walk into the building and down a hall to find a sign on the door that the doctors there had moved to a new location.

What? Not only was I frustrated, I had a mild anxiety attack and probably overreacted, but high cortisol does that. I'm usually known for being mild-mannered. However, the lady who answered the phone at the number I found on the sign on the door probably did not hear a mild-mannered woman.

She gave a long, quick "come on to the new office and we'll get you in" with directions shot like a ball out of a cannon. I had nothing in my hand on which to write, was holding my cell phone, and got every third word she said. Now in tears, I stopped her and asked her to explain it slowly. I really don't have a comprehension problem. Ok, well, maybe I do, a little, but not that bad, although that's another symptom of Cushing's. I just don't hear as fast as some folks talk.

Basically, she said for me to go back out to the main road where i was, turn left on it, go under the underpass, then turn right. Then she said, "We are in the middle building on the third floor."

I didn't have time this morning, but I went back this afternoon and took some pictures and pieced them together. Which building do you think is the middle building?

Yep, me, too. The middle one.

I could not find a parking place. This morning, the parking lot was full. Remember, by this time, I was an anxious wreck because I have needed this ENT appointment since late February/early March. Getting this one as soon as I did took some pushing and perseverance as it was. I could not figure out what to do, so bless that poor woman who answered the phone yet again. No, not the same woman, but they all were in the same area.

"I cannot find a parking place so I'm going to be even later."

She directed me to the building on the right, which was a parking garage. I didn't know that. I should have noticed, but I had tunnel vision at this point. Not knowing the layout of it, I told her I might have trouble walking the distance to their office. She said there were shuttles, so I could wait on one of those. I found a parking place near the elevator, however, and walked to the building I called the "middle building".

Up to the 3rd floor I went. At the middle reception area, I gave my name and that I was there to see Dr. D.

"You are in the wrong building."

That was the proverbial straw. I was beyond fatigued, anxious, red-faced, and out of my comfort zone. I am used to knowing where I have to be and being prepared before I get there so I don't have situations my Cushie body/mind don't handle well. I had none of that in this situation.

I cried. I hate to cry in public. But at this point it was cry or get mad. My body chose.

They quickly gave me directions, did all the right patting on the shoulder, and I got back on the elevator. I assume they called down to the nice doorman because he was waiting for me, and told me he had a shuttle coming to take me to the back door of the right building and that I should have Dr. D's nurse call when I left so they could pick me back up and take me to my car.

How nice was that? I was shakey and jittery at this point, but by the time the nice gentlemen got me in the shuttle and to the right place, I was doing better.

Why the mistake? Why the problem?

 Obviously, the directions were correct, but not from the perspective of "turn right" before one says "middle building". I was looking in the red arrow direction.  She was thinking blue arrows.  She just forgot I turned before I got to her perspective.  Ah, such is life...

...which brings me to how important communication is between any part of the healthcare system and the patient. Most patients are sick patients. Out of all the patient visits to any doctor or healthcare provider's office, how many are wellness visits? I don't have the statistics, but I'm willing to bet the percentage is small.

And how simple it would have been to ask me, when I made the appointment, if I knew their offices were in the current location. Tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of their move, I found out. So, it's been a little over a year since I saw Dr. D. I had no clue. I'm not sure how I was supposed to know.

There is much more to this story, and believe it or not, this was just a small portion of the impact of my visit today. Stay tuned for another post soon on the rest.

Hint: I'll talk about participatory medicine and clinical studies among other things.

1 comment:

  1. Hi,

    This is Vicky Silvers, I am an editor for Hospital.com. We are a medical publication whose focus is geared towards promoting awareness on hospitals, including information, news, and reviews on them. We would like to have our site included within your blog and offer our information to your readers, of course we would be more than happy to list your website within our directory as well.

    vicky silvers



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