Happy People are Healthy People

Today I went to a doctor’s office and waited

and waited

and waited some more

For an hour I waited standing up because there weren’t enough seats in the waiting room for all of us. At one point, there were so many of us waiting that there was no space for the technician to even open the door and call out our names. Which she did in the quietest possible voice, a whisper really, before quickly retreating to the warmth and safety of the exam area, where we were forbidden to enter until called.

I listened to the 3 receptionists quibble about what they would order for lunch. I heard each of them place their order and watched each order be delivered. I saw two women just miss getting into a fight over a seat and then saw them settle into an uncomfortable truce all while speaking in a language that was greek to me but also, I think, actually was Greek. I watched people get angrier and more frustrated and finally defeated as they waited for this agreement they had made, this covenant of the appointment time, to be honored by their doctor.

And then finally, after 2 hours, I was let into the back area. You would think after all that waiting, I would have been PISSED OFF. And I guess I sort of was. But the truth is, once I got past the seventh circle of waiting room, I was very pleased with the care I received. The doctor was kind and attentive and erred on the side of precaution. She answered all my questions, she offered different solutions based on my personal situation and most importantly, she never made me feel rushed.

So is this the trade off? Do we have to wait 2 hours and suffer a less than stellar front office staff in order to see a kind and caring clinician? Do we have to become infuriated and give up all hope of rescue before we can be redeemed in the hands of a doctor? Do they set it up this way? I wonder if I would have liked my doctor as much if I’d been led right in within 15 minutes of my appointment time. I mean she was nice enough, but she was HEAVEN compared to that waiting room.

I happen to believe that when you’re happy, you are more likely to be healthy. I’ve also watched how anger can make people sick. It seems to me that the way this place ran their waiting room was making people sick. It was certainly making them angry. Although, I guess the doctor’s office doesn’t really have a reason to exist without the sick people. Perhaps they have their priorities straight after all. They certainly seem to know how their bottom line is buttered. bleh!

Of course, some day in the not too distant future, I will be on the other side of this equation. I will be walking past the long suffering waiters and breezing through the forbidden door to the exam areas in order to go to work. I make this promise now, I will be as caring and kind and conscientious as my doctor was today. So that the patient feels the wait was worth something. And if I’m assigned to go to the waiting room to call the next patient, I will walk to the center of the room, lift my head, and speak out the names in a loud clear voice.

it’s the least I can do.


6 responses to “Happy People are Healthy People

  1. I’ve never really thought about the long wait as being a part of why I adore my Doc. I do love him because he is just like you described…..he obviously truly does care..I never feel rushed.
    Because I always have such a good experience when I see him, I’ve always just assumed that the wait was so long BECAUSE he is such an awesome Doc that so many people come to him hence the longer wait times.

    The whispering of the name drives me insane. It kind of makes me lol because everyone in the waiting area starts this comical 10 minute question and answer ceremony that goes something like this……”Did she say Jones? because that’s me” No I think she said “Holmes”. but then everyone sits there to see if anyone else gets up and is ushered through the magical doors.
    I think if the whispering of names keeps up I will just get up and walk that way no matter what the damn name was and pretend I thought it was me. You think that will work?


  2. That long wait where my time is not considered important,where I wait and get exposed to all manner of disease that I don’t already have and in which my normally easy going nature is stressed and ready to SNAP something in two is why I will hardly go to a dr anymore. And I know that this practice will eventually catch up w/ me. I hope more doctors are like you and will see pts in a timely manner without making them sicker in the waiting room.
    Good post.

  3. You said : “So is this the trade off? Do we have to wait 2 hours and suffer a less than stellar front office staff in order to see a kind and caring clinician?”

    How is it the office staff’s fault that you had to wait for your DOCTOR? Or that they ordered their lunch while you were there?

    I work as one of the “Office Staff” for a medical facility. I don’t control when the nurse gets to you. I don’t control when the Doc gets to you or what tests are ordered, or how long they take. I only get to be the person who gets the angry comments from the patients because they have to wait.

  4. Thanks for the comment Bjordan and sorry if I offended. You are absolutely right that the long wait is not the fault of the office staff and I imagine that they often take much more than their share of the blame when the doc is running late. It wasn’t really them ordering lunch that I had any trouble with. At the office I was at the staff was unfortunately palpably rude to myself and to the other waiting patients. I also heard one be abusive to a patient over the phone, and then make fun of that patient with her coworkers at a volume that we could all hear, mentioning the woman’s name and details about her medical care which pretty much sealed the deal in my determination of “less than stellar office staff”.

  5. I worked in 2 OB/GYN offices over the last 5 years. I hate hate hated being the nurse for the slow doctors. I hated having to go and say, Dr M- is running about 1 hour behind, just to let you know. I hated, even more being the check in or check out person. I had no idea where the patient was on the list, who was next, why the doctor was backed up, I wasn’t in the back with the nurses and docs.

    one thing I have noticed working in offices, the docs who you wait for are the ones who don’t miss anything, the most thorough, and often the most popular.
    Oh and the ones who complained the loudest, spent the most time with the docs.

  6. Oh, and I only get mad about waiting for hours, when the doc spends two minutes with me.

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