Monday, March 10, 2008

Culture Shock at the Doc

This is a rant. Officially. I am frustrated. Stop reading now if you're not in the mood--I won't be offended.

Today I took Rowan in for her 9 month appointment, and then saw a PA at my doctor's office (whom I love, so was disappointed that she didn't have an opening). The PA asked if we liked living here. I said yes, but it was a bit of a culture shock. She seemed a little offended. But you know, this is not the midwest. I am reminded of that regularly. It's just not the same. There are things, little things. They probably are no big deal, but we miss them. People in the midwest are really friendly and very relaxed. They have incredible work ethics. They always strive to make you feel comfortable. They have high standards, and those standards apply to everyone. And when it comes to health care, these are things I notice.

Yes, I'm living in Appalachia. But come on. This is a college town. A major university. We should have top-notch health care, right?

And I suppose it's probably fine. We're not dying or anything. But comparing it to the great care we received in Madison, and the wonderful doctors I saw in Paris, I just feel that something is lacking. Stupid, little things. The nurses never introduce themselves. I don't get asked the laundry list of questions every time just to make sure nothing important has changed. When phoning in with symptoms, they say, "well, if you think you should come in, you can."

I shouldn't have to think. They should tell me. THEY'RE THE EXPERTS. And when a baby has had a fever for 5 days, it's worth checking out! What if she had an infection? What if there was a major problem? How long am I supposed to wait--how serious does it have to get before they say, "you should really come in!"????

Then, we get notices from our insurance saying they won't cover trips to the ER, even though no other doctors were available at the time. Because it turned out to only be strep throat and wasn't serious enough. Which we would know... how? Except by going in, and when the pain has markedly increased and is nearly unbearable, well, yes it is an emergency! And it WAS strep throat!

In Madison, we were members of 2 different HMO's, both rated in the top in the country. They told you who to see and when and how often. They told you where to go based on the possible seriousness of your condition. More often than not, you had to go in. And they knew what they were doing. They were efficient, friendly, thorough, professional and they always introduced themselves. They made us feel like they really, really knew what they were doing and we would be well taken care of. And we were.

Here? I call at 2 in the morning because my baby is screaming and running a fever of 104, and they act as if it's no big deal, but don't take the time to reassure me of that fact. They don't tell me what temperature I should be worried at--just that "it should break in the next 24 hours". I go in for painful, itchy, scaly lips that haven't improved in 6 weeks despite throwing every possible thing I can think of at them, and I get asked if I've tried anything organic or Carmex and if I'm taking vitamins. You know, because a little fancy twigs-and-bark lip balm is going to solve a problem medical-grade lanolin and pure olive oil can't. And get told to come back in a week if Carmex doesn't work, and they'll refer me to a dermatologist. (At least she did take blood work for a thyroid test when I asked for it, since there's a family history.)

So here I sit. Itchy lips, a baby who still is fussy and won't sleep, and I don't even remember the names of the two nurses I saw today.

I want my HMO back.


Anonymous said...

You should try Boudreaux's Butt Paste on your is a diaper rash thing (that is so totally amazing) but it is supposed to work for anything like can find it at target, walmart, I would suppose any pharmacy. It clears diaper rash (bad, open sore diaper rash) in minutes. It does smell icky but it may do the trick. Hope something works soon! Jenn

La Rêveuse said...

I have some, and I'll give it a go. We have a whole bunch of diaper rash treatments, but honestly have not needed them because she hasn't had much to speak of. One of the benefits of cloth diapering. :)

La Rêveuse said...

Thanks for the tip, Jenn! Coffee hasn't kicked in yet...

afoos said...

I hear you on the healthcare thing- just one more reason to have a standardized system in the US! I don't know if you saw Micheal Moore's Sicko, but in it he interviews a woman whose daughter had a 104 fever like Rowan and they took her straight away to the ER, she got full care and even stayed overnight. When Michael Moore asked her, "Wow, your HMO covered this and let her stay in the hospital?" She replied, "I live in France." Fever can signal bigger problems- especially ear infection, which can be dangerous. I have a student who is deaf in an ear because of ear infection because her parents thought the fever would just go away. Louise has never had big fevers, but I remember with Gab, I would flip as I would see the thermometer rising by the second and didn't hesitate in taking him to the doc the next day. It's really sad when you have to hesitate and think about your health and your childrens' even when you have insurance!!! Do you mind if I link to your post on my blog? Really interesting example of why we need better healthcare in the US. I hope baby girl gets better soon! It's no fun to have a sick baby. As for us, I've marked the calendar as to when Louise should start breaking out into the chicken pox!!!!

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