Monday, January 22, 2007

Sometimes Waiting Isn't All That Bad
My throat had been scratchy all week, and I was constantly trying to dislodge something from my bronchial tubes. But I could still breath and wasn't doubled over in a wheezing asthmatic coughing fit. So I called my doctor's office - Kaiser Permanente - on Friday morning before I went to work. "We can see you at 10:50 this morning," the appointment rep on the other end of the line said. I took the appointment, the office being a five minute walk from me. I've had Kaiser for years, and the one thing they've consistently delivered on is this kind of acute illness treatment. Simply put, if you're sick, they can see you quick.

The waiting area was mobbed with coughing, generally miserable-looking Kaiser members. A nurse called me into the examining room after just a couple of minutes. She weighed me, took my temp, blood pressure, heart rate, etc. All excellent. "Your doctor will be here to see you in a few minutes," she said. "You're the next patient on her list, and I'll check back to make sure you're seen soon." She was very friendly and cheerful, and left me sitting on the crinkly-paper examining table.

The few minutes ticked by and then started piling on, one after the other. I leaned back, the examining table inclined in a half-sitting position. I closed my eyes. I started thinking about getting back into work and starting on a project, going through the steps in my mind... and dozed off. Not long, not even a few minutes. But long enough to know my awareness shut down briefly. I snapped awake. Then the doctor came in. "Everybody's got a cold today," she mentioned. "Including me," I said.

I tell this story not because there's any great outcome to it, but to give a counterpoint to all the bad customer service I seem to find in DC. On this day, I was ready to wait. All I had to do was get back to work, although my doctor said "You might as well go home and rest." I had too much work to do. This has been the kind of treatment I've gotten from Kaiser all the years I've been with them - if I need to see them fast, they can get me in.

Now if they can just work on getting to me on a timely basis for diagnostic, preventive, or specialized care!

P.S. The cold got much worse after I picked up my prescription. Had to miss a party on Saturday night. But that's not Kaiser's fault. Just my rotten luck.

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