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PCIntern's Journal
Posted by PCIntern in General Discussion
Sun Oct 16th 2011, 01:33 PM
I want to preface my remarks by stating that I am fortunate enough to have outstanding health care coverage because I pay almost two thousand eight hundred dollars monthly. It is outrageous that this is what it costs and that the insurance company to which I remit this shows billions in profits annually and is making this money off the backs of those who cannot afford to pay this and SHOULD not have to do so. I firmly believe that it is every person's right to have the access to the health care which I just experienced and I am not finished yet, although this chapter seems to be coming to a close. Now I am doubly fortunate, and it is equally ridiculous that because I am a member of the medical establishment, I was treated exceptionally well by the staff and doctors during my recent hospital stay and at my extensive (albeit weirdly medieval) testing which I endured prior to my upcoming surgery.

I had phoned my physician and told him that I was having a headache, which I almost never experience, and he said, "Come right over,. I'll take a look at you this afternoon. Don't eat anything, I may want to draw some blood on you, since it's been over a year." I went over, he adjusted my B.P. meds a bit, and drew the blood. The next morning, he called me and said that one of my kidney values was out of whack and I needed to see a nephrologist right away. That afternoon I had an appointment with a terrific doctor who referred me for the scan of kidneys and bladder the next day. Canceling my patients (as a dentist, no one was too upset, if you get my drift) I had the scan and in the middle, the tech stopped, went out and came back with a doc who told me that I had to go to the ER immediately and why. Scared to death, almost literally, I went over, signed in, and weirdly, within a half hour, despite the mob scene there, I was called back, catheterized for the first time in my life (not bad at all - more on this in a different post in the near future), watched carefully for two hours to ensure that I didn't go into a crisis which can occur, and, believe it or not, was visited by the head of the Emergency Department who asked me in all seriousness if I was OK, and did I need anything and that his people would see to it that I was taken care of. I'm thinking to myself, "Jesus H. Christ - everyone around me thought I was a VIP of some sort - you could tell that they were trying to figure out who I was because I was moved to the front of the line even though it was clear that I wasn't having an MI or a stroke or a bleed somewhere. It really was embarrassing -and NO, I did not show up waving that I was a Doctor-of-sorts. I never ever do that, not anywhere. Low-key is my motto.

Two and a half hours later, I got transferred right up to a room in urology and immediately nurses, residents, and an attending physician showed up, were extremely courteous and kind, and did everything necessary, chest films, blood draws, medication continuity interview, etc. My roomie, who was a great guy, had the same thing I did more or less and after about 16 hours, asked me, "Are you someone I should know?" I laughed and said, "Absolutely not. Why do you ask?" He said in all seriousness, "Ive been here for almost three days and not once have I gotten this kind of attention that you've gotten." I answered him by saying that we have different doctors and who knows. But I knew. He was absolutely right: I was in for almost three days myself and had about 4X the number of professional visits from several disciplines, and even though he was diabetic and I'm not, and he was in REAL kidney failure and I was in the very initial stages of that, and my doctor stopped by three times in one day, even though he is a cardiologist and told me that after 30 years of treating me, he never thought I'd be so suddenly infirm, and I must say that the bills which I have received and that were paid by my insurance really did not reflect the professional attention which I received. I've been a clinician for 34 years and I'm going to tell you that there was a marked difference in how I was approached as a patient versus others on the floor, even in terms of attitude of staff walking into and out of rooms; I took numerous walks with my IV pole and catheter bag and wow...I'm not saying that others weren't getting attention, they certainly were, but you could tell who was preferential from a social/insurance standpoint and who wasn't. It was sobering and quite frankly, unnecessary: people are the same and should be treated as equals when they are in life-threatening conditions.

My experience, for what it was, was wonderful, people couldn't have been kinder or more helpful. But anyone who says that we have a single-class medical establishment is on mushrooms or acid. I'm going back in a couple weeks for my procedure and quite frankly, have all the confidence in the world in these people. I fervently wish and hope that someday in America, everyone could be assured of feeling the same way. Unfortunately, it probably will not be in my lifetime.

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