Medical lack of care


For the past two weeks my wife has been ill. Her symptoms included dizziness, lack of vision, headaches, the urge to vomit, sleeplessness, and being startled by loud noises.

Although I know a little about treatment options, this was out of my league and we called a local healthcare facility to evaluate my wife’s condition. We arrived on time and saw the doctor within 20 minutes—an acceptable waiting period.

Halfway through my wife’s examination, the doctor had to stop in order to rush to the hospital. He said he would see us the following day. His nurse gave us an appointment time of 10:30.

At 10:30 sharp we were at the doctor’s office and signed in. The reception area was so jammed that someone considerately changed their seat so that my wife and I could sit together. My wife, still feeling nauseous, went to the bathroom several times.

I told the people at the desk that my wife was in significant distress and that if the doctor could possibly see her quickly, it would be greatly appreciated.

I learned an important lesson about this healthcare facility: they don’t care. What they mostly care about is money and more patients.

I went to the desk and, as a former New Yorker, I had had it. I started yelling, and everyone in the reception area heard me: “What’s the point of having an appointment if we have to wait two hours? I’ll tell you why! Because nobody here cares! You knew my wife was suffering but your attitude seems to be, ‘Ho hum, let her wait…’”

What I said was true: they don’t care.

The director of the facility came out and told me to stop yelling, which I did. But, frankly, I was happy that all of the patients in the reception area heard me. I probably gave voice to some of their frustrations also.

More than two hours after our arrival, the doctor saw my wife. I wisely decided to remain in the reception area, because I was still steamed at his arrogant lack of concern.

In the end, all the doctor did was to give my wife a prescription for a mild painkiller (which requires no prescription). So it was a morning wasted, for a useless treatment, by a dismissive doctor.

That said, we have had great success with another, wonderful clinic. We were seen almost immediately, the doctors listened attentively, and offered either helpful suggestions or a prescription for a medication that will actually do some good.

The only reason we went to the first facility was that my wife knew the doctor personally and erroneously believed that he would treat her quickly, with compassion and competence. But such was not the case.

So we are back to square one, sort of. We will go to the “caring” healthcare facility next week. The doctor we will see will listen attentively, arrive at a diagnosis, and perhaps prescribe something to help my wife.

It is obvious that I did not mention the names of these facilities, nor of the physicians. But you may be able to figure them out for yourself. Ask yourself, when did you last have to wait two hours to be seen?

Thank goodness there are physicians of integrity on this island and who perform their medical duties with kindness and competence.

While I’m at it, I want to praise CHCC’s emergency department and the fine physicians and support staff who work there, especially George Macris, M.D. He cared, and he got me back on my feet in a day.

Russ Mason
As Teo, Saipan

Russ Mason

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