09 December 2009

Angels Update

Let me start by saying how impressed I was with patient support at Methodist Hospital. From the moment we walked in yesterday, it was simply excellent.

Triage: excellent.
Nurse: excellent.
ER Resident: excellent.

My only complaint was watching the medical staff fill out form after form after form on-line. As I wrote yesterday--not their fault but the "system," however large and unwieldy it is. It really puts the negotiations in DC into a whole new perspective. The massive enterprise, universe, really, known as the Health Care Industry, is a beast that may never be tamed. The glimmers of humanity were welcome, necessary, and appreciated. Well done, Methodist!

That continued into today.

My daughter went to school with her crutches and a note from the ER doctor NOT to participate in gym and other physical activity. But for the first hour of the morning, the office at MS 51 wouldn't let her go to class because it wasn't a different note that said she could be on crutches. Figure that one out for me. The kid shows up with a signed note from an ER doctor at THE local hospital but according to the Department of Education administrator at the school it wasn't the wrong note, per se, it just wasn't the right one.

While texting with daughter on the merits of many of George Orwell's observations about bureaucracies, I called Methodist, where the ER administrator snapped into gear, contacted our pediatrician, and got the ball rolling. The two biggest frustrations? The office at MS 51 and the office at our pediatricians' office, each of whom were filled with excuses for the delays and not deeply committed to finding creative ways to resolve a situation.

Here's what drives me nuts: when customer service isn't a top priority, the whole experience unravels. The MS 51 administrator cited a Department of Education regulation but when I said I was on its website and could find no such policy about two different notes for crutches, she said, "I'll have to get back to you." At the pediatricians' office, it was an argument over how long my daughter was waiting in her office at school for their office to fax over the doctor's note. When I explained that it was thirty minutes of waiting, the receptionist said, "No, more like five." When I answered that in fact it was considerably longer, she said, "Sorry, we got busy here."

Cities like this claim that such bureaucratic gruffness is charming when in fact it's the sign of an aging dinosaur going extinct.

Some years ago, I had an experience in the Methodist ER that was less than okay. Yesterday and today my experiences were stellar. Adaptation wins the day. A public school and a pediatrician get two big thumbs down.

At least for my kid missing class, thanks to the adaptive tool known as a cellphone, we texted back and forth about the great English satirist of bureaucracies and their rules. From my perspective, she passes the class she missed.

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