Today I went to a doctor’s office 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.