Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The doctor is in...between 4 and 7

OK so I decided that I needed to set up a primary care physician, I mean I figure that's how healthcare works these days - you go see your PCP, and he either treats you or directs you to a specialist as needed. I hadn't been to a doc since moving here and I'm due to get a general physical exam anyway, so step one is finding a doc.

I log onto the website of my health plan, and did a search for a doc 'in network' (plan pays 90% vs much less for 'out of network'). Result is ONE doctor, in Key West. I call to set up an appt, and get voicemail. Left message. No return call for 2 days so I call again, leave vm again. This is a doctor's office?

Three days after the original call, I get a call from the secretary asking the nature of my call. I explain (PCP, physical, etc), and she says that the doc is in KW on Tues and Thurs between 4 and 7, would I like to come in? Yes of course, so she says come this Tues after 4 and bring a book since there are no set appt times. Huh?? OK, whatever, I guess this is KW and we're not supposed to be in a hurry. So I go on the next Tuesday, book in hand.

3:45, I walk into an empty office. Around the corner I find a 'secretary' reading IN TOUCH magazine (something about Britney no doubt) and ask if I'm in the right place. Yes she says, um sign in here (she turns over a photocopied something-or-other to the blank side and I simply write my name) and then she hands me a 'form' to fill out. We've all been to doctor's offices, and especially on a first visit can expect lots of paperwork to fill out (that's why I came early). But this is a VERY blurry/cropped photocopy of some standard form and I finished in like 2 minutes. Name, address, birthday, insurance info. I expected a lot more questions (family history, previous illness, operations, etc) but whatever...

4:00, the parade begins. Who even knew that these people all existed down here? By 4:30, the waiting room is full of every walk of life - male female all races wheelchairs mentally challenged on crutches several languages bleeding homeless talking loudly on cellphones etc etc ETC. Thank goodness I got there early and was at the top of the 'list'!

5:15, the doctor calls me in. Takes my blood pressure, asks why I'm here (PCP, physical, etc) and starts writing down some notes. After a few simple questions (any allergies, how much do I exercise, my job, why I moved to KW) he tells me to take this form and remember not to eat after 9 PM the night before - he tears off a page from his little memo pad and hands it to me. 5 minutes and I'm done, I've got a 4x6 inch note to prove it.

I hand the note to the secretary, who asks when I'm supposed to be coming back. I have no idea, I just know I'm not supposed to eat the night before. So she makes an appt for me, and tells me to take that 4x6 note with me when I go to get the bloodwork done - no mention of where, or when. So I ask. The hospital, whenever you want to. She says there's no appointment, I guess you just go between their regular hours of 8-5. OK I say, so I just walk in the door of the hospital at 9 AM and now where do I go? She says someone there will probably be able to tell me. Oh good.

She gives me a business card with my follow-up appt written on it (date only of course, no time), and asks for my $20 copay fee. I pay in cash, and when I ask for a receipt she takes the business card back and writes '$20 pd' on it and initials it. Mmm, modern.

So I have a follow up appt (bring a book) in 2 weeks, sometime between now and then I guess I'm supposed to go to the hospital with my little note and start asking people where I should go. Ah, life in Key West.

Glad I'm healthy - at least I think I am, I guess I'll find out. Maybe...

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