“Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy wealthy and wise.” Ben Franklin
Ok, I’ve been sick for a month. Nothing to do with Cinco De Mayo. My chiropractors and acupuncturists said, “virus in the lungs.” And last Friday, my number 1 Chiro said, “it’s become bacterial as well. Perhaps you’d better get some antibiotics.” Despite appropriate herbals and Diathermy, I’ve NOT gotten better.
So, OK, as a last recourse option, I’ll try the allopathic MD guys. They’re always my LAST choice. Never the first.
I don’t have a “real doctor” and haven’t seen one in years. But I’ve got a good friendship with my dentist. He’s called in 5 day antibiotic packs for me once before. I called him. He said, “I’d rather you got a throat swab so we can find out what we’re dealing with here. Not all of these penicillin packs work with some of these little buggers.” “Buggers.” Makes it cute and personal. My kind of guy. Hip to the modern medical failures, instead of just the latest laser-tag, nano-neuro tweak.
So, he calls somebody who works at his lab out in Northridge. I’m conferenced in. A guy says, “Ok, I can fax you the address of our lab in Northridge, and you can go there in the morning. They’ll do a throat culture, and a urine test. They’re open 8 AM to noon.”
Hey, can’t you just tell me the address on this little phone thingie and I’ll write it down.” Oh, sure.
And to my dentist, the guy said, “And you can call in an order there in the morning.” Check.
At 11:30 Saturday morning, I presented myself at the Roscoe clinic in Northridge, and met Clara. Clara said a couple of interesting things. She said, “We can’t do a throat culture. I’m a phlebotomist. Only a nurse can do a throat culture.
“And we can’t take an phone order from a doctor anymore. HIPPA.”
Are you following along here?
Then Clara, in an attempt to be helpful, said, “You can go across the street to Northridge Hospital, and they can do a throat culture.” The HIPPA proscription was not mentioned.
I called my dentist, and gave him the number of the Northridge Outpatient Lab that Clara gave me. Turns out that number went to the hospital pharmacy. Clara was very nice, but not very helpful. I called my dentist and told him where I was going, and he said he’d call the number Clara gave me.
I drove across the street to the Hospital. It was a busy street. I parked and looked to see the hospital’s banner, “One of the Top 100 Hospitals in the US.” There are over 7000 hospitals in the US. I suspected I was in trouble.
The entrance was hidden inside the parking garage. This is LA after all. I found the door, and looked around. Everything was that smoky brown color of a cool kind of shopping mall. There was a big light over a place that said, “Information.” I went there. I asked where the elevator was. Clara had already told me the Outpatient Lab was in the basement, but there were no elevators visible in the fancy, glassy lobby. The Info Guy asked me what I was looking for, and when I said the Outpatient Lab, he printed me up a little badge with a clip that I could now wear…to find the elevator. He pointed left and said it was past their Big Contributor Plaques in Gold wall. Hmmm.
I found the Lab. I pushed the button for service. A lady named Ellen came over and said. “No doctor called in anything.” And the number you have is not correct. Here’s our direct number. Then a Spanish lady came up behind her and said, “There’s a doctor on the phone for that man there.”
Then Spanish Lady got out a form that covers “Oral orders from doctors superseding HIPPA rules.” Another piece of Clara data corrected.
I’d been in a car for an hour and a half FINDING this place. I could have given them a urine sample right there in the waiting room. But wait…
Spanish lady said, “Now you must go up to the Emergency Room, to give them insurance forms.
“To pay for all this,” I said
So I went up the spacious Lobby again, and walked through to ER. Big sign.
I went up to a Bulletproof Window Babe, and waived my papers at her. She was on the phone. Finally she looked at me, and pointed at a TSA Lectern Babe across the room, standing by an outside door.
I went over there. I had to pass 50 people sitting in various stages of despair watching a soccer game waiting for “Emergency Care.” “Oh Oh,” I thought. “This could be a while.”
TSA Babe looked at my papers and said, “You have to go to Admissions out in the Lobby.” And she walked me past the 50 bored people out the door I’d come through, back into the Hospital. And it’s good she did, because that door only opened with a proper beeper. I wouldn’t have gotten back in that way without her. One point.
In the spacious, smoky Lobby, I couldn’t see an Admissions sign. God forbid they put a light on a sign, here in one of the Best 100 Hospitals in America. I went back to Info Guy. He pointed across said Lobby…a little dark sign high up over some glass doors. “But they close at noon.” It was after 5 minutes after 12 now.
I said, “For the day?”
“Well, yes. You have to go to Emergency for Admitting after noon.”
“I just came from Emergency. They sent me here.”
He put on a confused face. I suspect he used it often. To get rid of me, Info Guy said “Go over to Admitting and see if there’s anyone there.” It was…5 minutes after noon. Admissions was totally deserted. I mean desks cleared off. Floors swept. Trash baskets emptied. No recent activity at all. I turned to see Info Guy beginning to crawl under his desk.
I started back to Info Guy to ask how Dignity Health, one of the 100 Best Hospitals in the US, could basically close at noon on a weekend, when Kind Woman, wearing a Hospital Badge asked if she could help. I later learned her name was Gloria.
I said, “I’m trying to get some tests done in the Outpatient Lab (I vaguely waived my Lab papers in the air at this point. Anything to look like I had some proper reason for being in their Hospital.)
Gloria said, “Oh, you’ll have to go through the back.” And she walked me through another door to a guy I’ll call Dell Guy sitting at a nurse’s station desk behind a large Dell computer screen talking on the phone.
Gloria explained that Admitting was closed, and he would have to take my insurance information and “process” me.
He said, “Take a seat, I’ll be right with you.” Progress?
Not really. Dell Guy asked for my paperwork, and then cards: drivers license, Medicare care, and Medigap policy card.
I was now in the innards of ER. There were people behind curtains being examined. There was a guy on a gurney being wheeled about. There were nurses in scrubs ambling around looking…nursey. Deep hospital now.
After perhaps 3 minutes of “processing,” a woman came back from lunch, let’s call her Leonora, your basic overweight hospital staffer doing her time before diabetes or heart disease deconstructs her into permanent disability.
Dell Guy popped up, told Leonora to continue…and lurched toward the exits. Leonora tried to tell him that she hadn’t been trained on this system. Dell guy said, “All departments are using it now. It’s pretty simple.” Or he said, “Tough, I’m out a here.” Or, “Fuck you, I’m going to lunch.” And he was gone. My ears were filling with urine at this point, and my hearing was failing.
Leonora sighed, looked at a keyboard, punched keys and numbers; printed stuff, and had me sign some forms, one for HIPPA, one for “Admission,” and one for Financial Responsibility. Possibly I waived my rights to ever have a pet. I’m not sure. This “simple processing” took her 25 minutes to ask questions, take copies of my “cards” print stuff, get stuff signed, and be sullen.
Then, Leonora allowed me to go back to the basement Outpatient Lab. Along the way I paid attention to their elevator signs. Is hand washing something they still need to remind employees about? In the OL, the previous worker, Ellen, who was also trying to leave, took blood, gave me a urine cup, and showed me to a bathroom.
Before she could bolt for the garage, I mentioned that I was supposed to have a throat swab. So she grabbed a long stick and stuck it down my throat.
Afterwards, I said, “I thought only nurses could do swabs.” Ellen was not a nurse. Her name tag said she was a phlebotomist…at Dignity Hospital, one of America’s 100 Best. She said, “I used to do this before.” (Before the nurses union usurped the right to drop a small spear on your tonsils?)
Ellen put labels on my blood, pee, and swab stick…AND I WAS DONE, 3 hours after I’d started out…at one Dignity Health, one of the 100 Best Hospitals in the US.
Thank God I hadn’t gone to a bad hospital.
It’s now Tuesday. My dentist called today and asked for my date of birth. I asked if the Dignity Hospital had refused to process my stuff until they completed the paperwork? Is my culture done yet, mom?
In the old days, healers understood that it is an out of balance condition inside the body that causes disease or illness. Modern medicine hasn’t got time for that. They’re too busy doing paperwork. I guess putting up the mortality chart from Gary Null’s incredibly well researched 2011 book, Death by Medicine, would be piling on?
Yes, the chart indicates almost 800,000 people died at the hands of the medical establishment…at an enormous cost the previous year. Yeah, definitely piling on. See http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-02-27/guest-post-50-signs-us-health-care-system-about-collapse.
I suppose investing in drug and hospital stocks would make sense, since they’re such money making institutions…but I just can’t do it now. Maybe I’ll think about it again…when I see my bill.
—The Financial Foghorn,
author of “Financial Foghorn’s Guide to Gold—Get Rich, Get Happy, and Get to Heaven with Monetary Metals.”