Friday, August 26, 2005

At work today, something happened that made me extremely sad.

A woman called to set up an appointment for herself. She hasn't been seen by our practice before, so we would have to set up a new patient appointment for her. Those are alloted a longer time span than returning patients' appointments are given, as the doctor will need more time to discuss the patient's medical history, symptoms, etc.

I happened to be the one to take the call. I started the process of setting up the appointment. I got as far as the step that determines when the next available opening would be, and announced to the lady, "Our first opening is [date]".

The woman completely lost her composure and began to cry. "No, not that date! That's the day my mother died, pick another date!" So I scrolled forward to see when the next opening was after that date, but the woman was too upset to continue. "I'm sorry, I'll have to call you back", she said, still crying, and hung up.

That poor lady. She must be really suffering with grief if the mere MENTION of that date is enough to trigger a crying spell. I felt terribly sorry for her.

Since one thing we're doing is making a list of how many people request a new-patient appointment, I wrote the lady's name onto the list. Then I told my fellow Patient Services Rep, "See this name?" I showed her the list and related what happened during the phone conversation. "If this lady calls back and you get the call, please make sure that you don't offer an appointment on [date], no matter what. Offer any other day BUT that."

As for the person who wanted an appointment with us, I'm thinking that the specialist she might benefit most from is not a rheumatologist, but a grief counsellor of some sort. My heart goes out to that poor patient. If she hasn't sought that kind of help yet, I hope she does. Nobody should have to bear that amount of sadness.

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