finding a doctor

I’m in search of a doctor.  I also have the worst insurance in America. I called Dr. Hentek.  She accepted Atlantis insurance.  Dr. Hentek was in the neighborhood and she said she could see me right away.  These were three clues I should have picked up on before calling another doctor.

After waiting nearly 40 minutes, I was told to follow a woman in scrubs. She led me into an exam room and attempted to take my blood pressure four times.  By the fourth time I realized that she had never done this before and didn’t know how to read the pressure.  Having sensed my realization, she told me it was her first day and asked me if I knew what my blood pressure was.  I told her 110/70.  She recorded it in my permanent medical record.  She took no height or weight stats, for which I was grateful – but still. She left the room immediately after the blood pressure fiasco and told me the doctor would be right in.

All I could think about was how I was going to tell the doctor that there was no way that woman would be taking blood from me. As I was practicing the most polite way communicate my concern to the doctor, the nurse opened the door to tell me that they needed to see me at the front desk. As I approached the desk I heard the receptionist telling my insurance company on the phone that I had elected to change my primary care physician & handed the phone to me. The insurance rep asked me to verify. I told her that when I signed up with Atlantis they assigned a doctor to me because I did not have one that I went to regularly and explained that really, the primary physician on my card meant absolutely nothing and I could go to any network doctor. I wondered why I was being forced by Dr. Hentek’s receptionist to change the primary physician. Were they on some sort of commission? I was a bit surprised at the boldness of Hentek’s staff, but reluctantly agreed to change my primary care physician’s name on my insurance card. The receptionist took the phone back and immediately directed me back to the exam room.

When I arrived at the room, it was taken. I opened the door to the room and was surprised to see a woman sitting there in her cotton jonny.  She was no doubt surprised too.  I shut the door and walked back to reception to let them know there was another patient in my room. The three girls at reception all seemed quite annoyed, looking at each other for several seconds too long while silently asking which one would have to get up out of her chair and help me. After the decision was apparently made, the loser escorted me to a new room, told me to have a seat and shut the door. I was sure that I had missed my place in line and that they wouldn’t remember I was in there until closing.  Eventually the door opened and a slovenly woman in scrubs entered. I prayed she was not there to take my blood or touch me in any way. As it turns out she wasn’t. She was there to collect money from me. She told me the doctor would be in after I paid her for the visit. She wanted me to give her cash. She went on to explain that office procedure was for the cash to be clipped to the patient’s chart prior to giving the chart to the doctor for review.   After I found the strength to close my mouth, I explained to the woman that I would pay for the service after I received the service. This seemed confusing to her. She left the room and closed the door behind her. About two minutes later another woman entered with the same request. Again I explained to this woman that I would pay for the service after I received the service. She proceeded to argue with me and demanded payment.  She went on to tell me that that is how it is done in New York.  I could hardly believe that I found myself explaining to her that in over 40 years of going to doctors, I have never been asked to pay prior to seeing the doctor. She began to raise her voice and once again demanded my cash.

I walked out.

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