Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Health Clinic Blues

Last night I went to the poor people's health clinic. My insurance doesn't kick in until December 1st and I have been coughing and wheezing for WEEKS possibly months... so I decided I couldn't wait any longer. I made an appointment, which lead to one of the most depressing evenings I've had in a long time.

I had planned my entire day around this appointment. I drove to work, got there early, left work early... and arrived at the clinic about 5 mins before my appointment. I had been there before.

I ended up waiting 1.25 hours just to get into the exam room. Someone in the office had really bad B.O. There were several small children from various families running around making noise. I couldn't get any knitting done... no concentration. (I wished I had my headphones..... would that have been rude?) It was like an extended El ride, only people kept getting on. Hardly anyone walked out the door the whole time I was in the waiting room. No one had any sense of personal volume.

A middle aged mother and her daughter, who was about my age, walked into the clinic when I was parking. They were waiting just as long as myself. The daughter went up to the receptionist several times (who was constantly on the phone - not making personal calls, I'm sure, but was very busy) to explain her situation. Apparently the mother did not speak English and the daughter had to be there with her to translate, or maybe also as her transportation. All they wanted was the mother's mammogram results but the daughter had to be in class at 5pm... they were there well after 5. I thought, "Oh God, how terrible to receive your mammogram results in a place like this.... especially if it was bad news...."

Another family came in through the door - a mother, father, and son who was about 9 or 10. None of them spoke English.... I couldn't believe that the son didn't know any. It seems like even if he went to a school where Spanish was the main language (not surprising for Chicago) they would at least have English as a subject.... who knows. Anyway, there was only one nurse who spoke Spanish. She spoke with the father for a moment just behind the counter. I think they were trying to find out how much something cost.... not sure. (Maybe I should brush up on my one year of HS Spanish :) The father came out and spoke with the mother. (At least the child was well behaved in this family. He wasn't maniacally bouncing off the walls like the others.) Then he had to consult the nurse again. He waltzed off behind reception and knocked on the exam room where the nurse was in with a patient!!! I saw all of this going on through the glass window of the reception desk. I saw him turn the handle of the door! There is NO privacy in this place! It's insane!

At this point I'm very close to just walking out the door and cutting my losses.

I waited.....

An obviously teenage girl comes through the front door with her freakin' 5 month old baby! The baby was very cute but this was ABSURD. This girl was probably 16.... I was disgusted - not necessarily at her, but at the situation.

Another woman comes through the door. She has an appointment, but she's after me in the queue.... she sits down... and waits....

to be continued...

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