Another story about the haves and have nots.
I entered the Community Health Center at ECMC when it was daylight out.
I left when it was dark.
I spent over 5 hours getting to know how health care is for the have-nots. I’ve been without insurance before, but never for this long, and never for when I’ve been this sick.
I decided I couldn’t wait anymore nor depend on my personal healthcare connections another day to take care of this mess. I’d been sick for over a week, and almost passed out while making eggs. Something wasn’t right.
So I looked up clinics for people without insurance on the old google. I prob could’ve gone to my doctor, but who knows how much the bill would’ve been. Plus i was worried that I had contracted a case of pneumonia and wanted to be in a one-stop shop where I didn’t have to be sent elsewhere for tests.
I entered the clinic at 12:30 pm and filled out a walk-in form. Apparently you had to have appointments for this facility. Who knew?
The clinic was filled to capacity with families and children and old people, of every possible background. Many people did not speak English.
It took an hour for me to see a nurse. I told her my ailments and she said they could probably get me an appointment for today or tomorrow, but I’d have to fill out a new patient form.
Ok, why didn’t I just do that during the hour while I was waiting? Sigh.
I filled out my form. The desk clerk said I could have an appointment at 2:30pm. Excellent since it was only 2. I agreed and went back to my seat.
At 3pm they called me back to the patient room. Blood pressure, temp, the whole normal triage deal. The nurse said the doc would be in in a bit.
My phone had died so I took to reading posters on the wall. The HIV one kept scaring me. After enough of reading about muscle relaxers and controlled substances and workers comp, I took to closing my eyes. Unfortunately, lately, every time I close my eyes, the thoughts I try to push away come through. Especially during waking hours. So I took a tossing and turning nap in a hospital chair. I woke up with semi drool on my shoulder.
Did they forget about me?
I had no phone, so no idea what time it was. The place could be closed up for all I knew. It sounded quiet outside the door.
I opened it up and peeked out. A nurse came by.
“Hi, I just fell asleep, so I just wanted to make sure that you guys didn’t forget about me!” I smiled a weak smile. Might as well attract flies with honey.
“Oh hey sugar, nope, you are next!” the nurse said. “We’ve been swamped today. Monday and all.”
“Ok, sounds good.”
I went and sat back in the room for what seemed like another 25 minutes. I got up, walked around in circles, kind of like a confused dog, and sat back down again. I considered taking another nap. I should’ve brought another book.
Finally a knock on the door and a doctor came in with his intern. He talked so fast, and asked so many questions, I couldn’t figure out what he was saying. The intern typed furiously.
Luckily my lungs were clear, what I was hoping to hear.
I heard him mumble sinusitis or nasitis or something. He scribbled a few prescriptions for me and told me I could get them here so I didn’t have to wait. He also scheduled blood work for me, which I couldn’t understand if it was just a sinus infection.
But I also wanted to know why I was so dizzy and weak and tired. This had not happened to me before.
“It is the virus,” he said matter of factly.
A virus? I said to myself. I thought I had a sinus infection?
Whatever. I had already been there for god knows how long, and just wanted to leave. They wanted me to come back early the next day for lab work.
“You know I don’t have insurance right, for the lab work?”
“It will be fine. Come here tomorrow,” the doctor said.
I walked back out into the waiting room. It was dark as night out. What a strange day.
I didn’t really trust his diagnosis, but I had already been there for all of daylight, so I couldn’t deal with anymore.
I walked to my car and plugged in my phone. The phone shone 5: 20 p.m. back at me. Almost 5 hours exactly.
There is an ongoing debate in this country about healthcare. But honestly, the people complaining never know what waiting in these conditions is like. They have never had to experience the bills and inconveniences for the simplest care. You never see anyone without healthcare complaining about having a possible national healthcare option.
If I had had national healthcare, I could’ve gone to my normal provider in a fraction of the time and a fraction of the cost. It may cost us more in the end, but it’s also not fair for so many people to have to suffer. And it’s not even those without insurance, it’s even worse for those who are underinsured, with premiums high and insurance companies only paying so much or refusing to pay for certain treatments and the patients getting stuck with the rest of the bill.
For ever side, healthcare is a mess. It is a national issue, but I will be considering the opinions of those on the ballot tomorrow when voting for my regional leaders. Although, really, no one does anything about it. Because everyone has or can afford healthcare.
In viewing the Occupy movements and seeing the difficulty of finding a job, I’m realizing my generation is worse off financially than my parents’. It’s a sobering fact. We also do have a lot of opportunities and freedoms as well, and there is hope, so not all is doom and gloom. I’m just hoping leadership starts to understand. Go spend a day in a local health clinic. Go and live on the other side.