Thursday, September 17, 2020

Doctor, Doctor, Give Me the News


It seemed simple enough.  Call.  Arrange for a flu shot.  Get a flu shot.  Well, nothing is simple in the world of big medicine.

Let me start by saying I have a great deal of respect and admiration for people in the medical field.  It includes custodians, secretaries, receptionists, all the way to the people with the fancy degrees.  That respect and admiration is ramped up considerably during the current situation.

It is the system that fails, and bigger is not necessarily better.  And, one day I will write a book about my experiences with the Veterans Administration.  That is another story for another time.  Today's tale is not VA related.

Let's go back to the beginning.  I always get a flu shot in early September.  I made the call for an appointment.  After being on hold for 15 minutes, I had to jump through a series of hoops because my insurance has changed since my last flu shot.  Yes, I am thankful I have insurance.  Very thankful.

Here is where it gets sad and hilarious at the same time.  My primary care physician, who I haven't seen in years because he closed his quaint private practice and affiliated with a big medical group, left and I didn't know it.  No notice.  No recommendation for a new primary care physician.  No "arrivederci."  All the woman on the phone said was "he left us."  I didn't know if he quit, retired, or died.  I later learned he retired.  The woman on the phone was having difficulty scheduling me because I didn't have a primary care physician.  Finally, out of exasperation, I said, "Just put down Dr. Fauci."  The reply?  "Is he a (medical group) doctor?"  No, I explained.  He's the national coronavirus expert you see on TV every night.

I finally was scheduled, and arrived the next morning, at a huge medical building, for the shot.  The place was crowded.  Due to the current situation, that really gave me the creeps, even though there was a temperature check at the door.  On the other hand, they did seem efficient in moving people in and out, and I received my shot at the appointed time.

You may be asking why I just didn't go to the drug store.  Any time I have been to a pharmacy, it's been packed, and the pharmacists and techs are working as fast as they can.  I'd feel awful at taking them away from pill duty to give me a shot.  I can just picture some guy in line to pick up medicine for a sick kid, having to wait while I get a shot.  I don't want that.

However, after this year's experience, I might find myself in a drug store next year.