I had hoped to awaken this morning having slept a little longer than I’m used to. Today is Election Day in Virginia. Schools are closed today, so I wouldn’t be getting any 6 AM telephone calls to substitute teach. The only plans I had were to work out in the late afternoon with some members of the softball team who’d just begun a special winter workout. I even anticipated having a little time to research some article topics to write about later. As usual, I was deluded.
I awoke, instead, to a bully of head pain pounding my face with every heartbeat, a sore throat, and the sinking sensation that my “freebie” day was going to be spent dealing with medical hurdles and naps. I’m scheduled to return to subbing the next two days and the final day of the week is supposed to be spent helping Mr. Baseball get through a medical test. Further, there remain a number of the softball team girls I was measuring for baseline strength that I work with each evening.
As this bug seems to be rotating through all the schools – elementary to university, Mr. Baseball and I share the same family physician, I’m a nurse, and and well-familiar with signs and symptoms of a sinus infection (as are most adults), and the doctor’s office just prescribed medication for Mr. Baseball, I entertained ideas that Dr. X would mount his steed in full armor and have his office nurse call in a “Z-Pack,” or azithromycin , for me without requiring that I travel the 60-mile round trip to his office. Also, I just saw Dr. X on an unrelated matter. It isn’t as if he last saw me in the 20th century.
I never did get to speak with Dr. X and plead my case. (Thus, you can forget about first choice on the Virginia football tickets we can’t use next season, Doc.) Instead, I got stuck with a vicious receptionist who assured me I wouldn’t get my grubby hands on any medications without a full physical examination by a physician, i.e., the usual excuse. But I’m persistent. I called back and was able to speak with a receptionist apparently unrelated to pit bulls who listened to my plea as well as the historic fact that this same office had called this same med in for Mr. Baseball two weeks ago. “We might have done that,” she told me, “But I’m not allowed to if there’s an open appointment for any of the doctors.”
What? I grabbed the opportunity. “Do you mean to tell me that just because there’s an open appointment for you to fill with a strange doctor at your clinic, you have to have me come in?”
“Well, she answered, “that’s what Carilion mandates.” She added, “you might have a chance we’d call it in if everything was full, so you’d be able to get started on treatment, but otherwise we have to go by what ‘they’ say.”
So, Carilion, the local medical monopoly apparently decides on medical treatment based on the doctors’ schedules and any open spaces available. Interesting. They don’t even claim the possibility of malpractice or poor treatment if I’m not seen in person. They don’t list the higher possibility of complications, or that I might not recognize the severe side effect of a unicorn horn in my forehead. No, the suits at Carilion say I must make the roundtrip to their office in a household with a known illness because a new physician to the practice has open appointments.
Carilion isn’t new to regulatory agencies, state or federal. Recently, the Federal Trade Commission has investigating them and there’s a hundreds-plus organized anti-Carilion body based in Roanoke, VA. I can’t escape Carilion “health care” any more that I can escape Congressional District #6 and Representative Bob Goodlatte.
And people wonder why our medical system is both overused and poorly utilized.