Tuesday, September 14, 2021

The one where you can't schedule an appointment


So Cookie had a wee fall a couple weeks ago.  It really was my fault.  I was coming down our main staircase, I was pondering where, if anywhere, I could find membership records for the United Commercial Travellers organization from the 1890s, my gaze fixed through the front door at the dog playdate happening on our front yard and thought I was going to step off the stairs, and...

...the next thing you know I am "ass over kettle" falling towards the floor.  

I landed on my feet, and then legs.  The bottoms of my feet didn't touch the floor.  No, the top of one foot smacked the floor, the other foot touched with my toes curled under, followed by the crash of my left knee.   The nose was terrific and my husband came running in from the kitchen. 

Nothing was broken, thankfully.  A lifetime of being a milk drinker paid off.  But unbeknownst to either of us, the nail on my big toe must have drive into the flesh around it resulting in what became an infection near the edge of the toe.  So I went to my doctor over the weekend when Mr. Toe looked angry, and the doctor put me on antibiotics and then sent a referral over to the recommended podiatric medical practice.  

That was Saturday.  I made three calls to the practice, no one answered.  On the third call, after forty-five minutes on hold, I left a message with a callback number and explained the problem in the message.  

I was not surprised when the crickets of the evening, instead of the call, emerged. 

So "lather, rinse and repeat" I started anew today.  

On the third call, someone answered.   

"Are you an old patient, a current patient, ar a new patient?" she asked. 

"New.  Dr. Hemoglobin should have sent over a referral on Saturday," says I.

"I don't have that."

"Perhaps someone else has it," I asked.

"No. I get those but I was out yesterday," says she.

"Then perhaps someone else has it," I asked.

This went round and round before she asked me why I needed to see a doctor.

"Injury to a toe, infection along the nail line."

"Are you in pain." It wasn't so much a question as it was a perfunctory statement. 


"The soonest I can get you in is the first week of November at our Havre D' Grace office," she stated. 

I pointed out that if I wait that long, I could have lost my toe if the antibiotic alone doesn't fix it, hence the reason for needing to see the doctor sooner.

"I can do Columbia the third week of October 18th at 8:00am," she pronounced.

What about something that isn't an hour in down and back in rush hour traffic. 

She got me to Carney, then Eastpoint, but I stood my ground.  There is an office not 20 minutes away. 

"Fine. I can get you in tomorrow morning."

I took the appointment. I am grateful that she got me in. 

But why is it so damn hard to get an appointment?  I know, understaffed, overworked, blah, blah, blah. I know I should feel blessed that she finally went looking for something, but somehow I feel as if I was belssed*.

But there is something else - this sense that an urgent matter can wait.  If I were someone who treats a podiatrist like a chiropodist, well then fine, my toenails could wait a week or two.  But when someone states that they have seen an MD, they have a referral, they have an infection and are on antibiotics, a light should have gone off somewhere that this person has something that won't wait six weeks.

So tomorrow, most likely said the doctor will look and say "you have an injury to your toe..." or they'll be sticking needles in my foot and cutting away to get the puss sack out. 

I will survive, mostly intact.  But the scheduler won't be getting a thank you card for not doing her job.

*When someone finally comes through after wasting your time.  


  1. I hope you recover soon--that sounds like a bad fall. I had an experience very much like that in Cleveland. I had gone to a bad eye doctor who was ruining my eyes. I called up a famous eye doctor, but was told he was accepting no new patients. I said this was an emergency, and no other doctor would do, so she said, "o.k., our first available appointment is in six months." I repeated that it was an emergency, so she said, "how about tomorrow; we can squeeze you in?" When I went, the famous doctor was unhurried, tested me thoroughly, and fixed the problem. I hope your trip to the podiatrist goes as well!

  2. In my experience, doctors' receptionists are a breed apart. They must go to some academy or other to learn the best way to sneer imperiously, treat your serious health concerns with complete disdain, and provide the least appropriate response to any request. There will be "side-classes" in said academy, no doubt, for door security/concierge personnel, car park attendants and people who work in post office parcel depots... Jx

  3. With tongue planted firmly in cheek I say, "But the US has the best healthcare system in the world!". Seriously, I hope you get good news from the doc. I've had a toe nail removed before - not on the list of experiences I'd want to repeat. Holding a good thought for you.

  4. First--glad you are ok...Can't have a national treasure tarnished...Second-I have been hearing about dental and doctor's appointments being made well into October and November...What is going on out there...And the folks that are offering these appointment are booking them nonchalant like they are setting appointments within 2 weeks...I manage medical practices...Schedulers should be following their protocols...There should guidelines if patients call for this or that, or they are having this or that, or if it is a referral with urgency...Referrals are the lifeline of a medical practice...It tells the physician that colleagues value them to the point that they want to throw business their way...These type of referrals are captured quickly...I know good medicine...I know I could evaluate your toe within 15 minutes and if I needed to do a quick procedure my staff could could prepare, I can see another patient, swoop in do the procedure, and all is remedied...I tell folks the person taking the call is only going to tell you what they have been made to tell you...They rarely will go beyond that...If one wishes more than they can offer, don't argue, persuade, just ask to speak to the office manger or anyone else who can tell you yes...