Friday, July 16, 2004

Ghetto Quest

So I went to a new doctor yesterday to get a long overdue physical (read: 4 years), praying that everything would come out alright. With my new job I have actual honest-to-god health insurance (as opposed to the accident and sickness BS I was forced to pay $800/yr.  for in grad school), but I have been informed by my insurer that, since I have been so long between coverage, they can refuse to cover treatment if anything should come up (For those unfamiliar with the pre-existing condition exclusion laws of Delaware, Pennsylvania and New York, if you are without health coverage for more than 63 days before starting a new plan, your new plan can tell you to go screw yourself if you get sick, up to a year after you start, despite the fact that you and your employer are paying premiums, co-pays and fees up the wahzoo. Am I bitter? Nah. But this country needs more than HIPAA regulation to reign in the greed and inequality inherent in the healthcare industry, for reals.)   Anyhoo, the doc sent me to Quest, the blood-and-pee testers, for basic blood work.  It was right up the street from her office, off CPW. Fancy. Right?   Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. Ghetto. Ghetto. Ghetto.   Sid is afraid she might have come out at higher health risk than when she walked in.  Alarm bells should have tinkled when the administrative nurse didn't realize a half dozen people on the waiting list had been in and gone. But it was lunchtime, and maybe there was a shift change. I would reserve judgement.   And then I heard:   "Eh mami,  you need to axe your doctor to approve this test. Go over there and axe the blonde how to do it."   This, to an elderly doyenne of the UWS, who looked mildly confused, yet attempted to comply. Now, I'm not saying watching a little old rich lady being bossed around and called "mami" is not hilarious, and worth a little unease provoked by dubious procedure. It is, I assure you. (If you're wondering, Sid was called mami, too. Joy.)   It is not, however, worth being pointed into a little room already containing other, nervous looking patients and being tended by a tech who looks to be about 14. Nor did the fact that she dropped her head on her folded arms on top of the sanitary gauze and proclaimed she "couldn't do this now,"  inspire confidence. For that matter, the empty vial kicked under another waiting victim's chair and the overflowing wastebasket did tend to make one nervous, as well. Spotting me looking around, another cheery nurse, who replaced our frustrated adolescent tech, rectified the trash situation by squashing the overflow back in with her foot. Classy.   Not knowing where to find another branch of the testing center, and doubting there would be much improvement if I did, I remained while, gladly, the nurse got new sterile gauze, put on gloves (threatened by her seriously long acrylic tips) and drew the requisite blood samples from my pudgy arm.   Sid scurried out, relieved that none of the morbid  needle-accident scenarios that had been running through her mind came to pass. Of course, I never did see what the nurse did with my sharps after she used them.  If you can't get decent medical attention in the high-rent (okay, higher rent) neighborhoods in this town, I'd hate to see how the story is playing out in poorer facilities. The implications are staggering.   And I am afraid.    For more info on helping the unisured and underinsured in this country get the care they need, click here.


At 8/27/2004 09:16:00 PM, Blogger Berry said...

Okay, I thought I was the only one having a problem finding a decent doctor's office in this town. If the physical space isn't nasty then the attitudes of the staff are.


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