By Leaf Barret
The doctor is in, but just for a minute …
Living in Oregon has been a treat for me, coming from one of the largest cities in the world. Oregon is definitely one of the least densely populated states in which I’ve lived and, given that, a very pleasant and relaxing place for me. However, with a lower population comes fewer people (i.e., doctors) who specialize in certain areas.
You may know of an “urgent care” or some other medical facility near you, maybe one that already existed, before it was remodeled or expanded. GREAT! Right? More facilities would imply the availability of more doctors, but that is clearly not the case … at least not here in Oregon.
Last week, I scheduled a doctor’s appointment with my primary-care doctor, who is a knee “specialist” here in Southern Oregon, for a cortisone injection. The office informed me that my doctor was not available until July 26 for an appointment, but that they can get me in to see one of his team members to do the injection.
I showed up for my appointment on time and was called back by the nurse. After all the preliminary stuff, I was asked to wait and told that my “doctor” would be in shortly. After about 10 minutes, the “doctor” came in unaware of why I was there. I began to explain my need, and she immediately told me that she was not qualified to do such an injection and that I would have to see my primary-care doctor. “OK,” I said with a puzzled look on my face. “When do you think he can fit me in?”
She asked me to wait while she found the doctor to ask when he might be able to squeeze me in. She returned about five minutes later and asked if I could wait awhile for my doctor. “Sure,” I said, still kind of puzzled how he could squeeze me in today if his scheduling team didn’t offer me that same option.
Fast-forward about another 20 minutes, when they called me back to the care room where, after a few minutes, my doctor pops in. I tell him what’s going on and what I need. (Now, understand that I get these injections usually every four to six months, but this time I’d been OK for almost 12 months. He poked me in the knee and looked at my leg a little and then instantly said he was going to prescribe me pills …
“Nope, that’s not going to help me at all.” Masking the pain and the problem seems to be Play No. 1 in every doctor’s book here — everywhere, in fact. I asked him if he thought that an injection would be better because I have had them almost every year for the past 16 years, and he replied, “If it keeps bothering you come back, and we can take care of it then.” … Um, “OK.”
And that was it. … Well that and $600 for the visit that didn’t result in anything that helped me. We literally spent five minutes together for an ailment that was never tended to, nor was the issue resolved. So why would I go back now?! Just to spend another $600 and maybe get the injection I asked for the first time! … Wait, now that bill would be $1,040 if you add their charge to inject one knee!! That’s silly in itself!
Lack of doctors, and narrow windows of time for appointments are the way everything has been going, but for those desperately in need, is this really a smart play by health care facilities? What is happening to our society and our health care? How can five minutes with a patient be enough to get to the root of the problem?
It’s time for a change, and most certainly it’s time for holistic medicine to be recognized as more than just “witchcraft.” We need to take a stand as patients and tell doctors that five minutes is not enough time, and that pills are not the answer. Spend time with us; get to know the real us and not what it says on a computer screen.