Thursday, May 25, 2006

How ironic is it that my TransPASS, purchased in advance at a discount as one of my employee benefits, arrived in the mail today?

Well, at least I get to ride SEPTA as much as I please in June. That'll come in handy if I find myself getting temp assignments. Yeah, I'll be reactivating my registration with the temp agencies I was working for. Hopefully I'll find something full-time before long, but who knows?

Actually, this saved me a call to my former employer's benefits department. I know that the money for the June TransPASS was already deducted from my paycheck earlier in the month. So if the June pass didn't arrive, I was going to ask for a refund of the purchase price of the pass.

Good. At this point, I think I'd rather have the TransPASS anyway. I can get a lot of use out of that thing.

I can't help but wonder how they're faring at the front desk today. Actually, today shouldn't be all that bad. Tomorrow, however, will be another story entirely. Not only will there be an unending procession of patients from 6:15 AM (no, that's not a typo) until 4:00, but there will be dozens of charts that need to be prepped for Tuesday (Monday's a holiday). Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays are extremely busy days, without exception, because those are the days when the most doctors are in the clinic seeing patients.

Last Friday, the temp PSR worked until 10 PM getting Monday's charts ready. And that was WITH a full compliment of staff at the front desk. Tomorrow, the temp has the day off and the front desk will be shorthanded to boot. Someone's going to have to find time to prep Tuesday's charts, in among the time spent checking patients in and out, doing the billing, and manning the phones. I hope the pointy-haired-manager who is my ex-boss's boss is there until MIDNIGHT prepping charts. It would serve her right for not at least waiting until the vacationing employees returned to work before dropping the ax.

You know, I thought I'd feel worse than this after losing the job. Which, as should be clear in the past couple months' worth of posts, I have felt was only a matter of time before it happened. Maybe the long amount of advance warning that I was a dead PSR walking helped to soften the blow. Maybe the latest bout with depression (yes, I've been to the doctor) is actually playing in my favor, as one of the hallmarks of depression is my near-inability to feel anything, good or bad.

But maybe I'm not as upset as I expected because that this job's stress was the direct reason why I've felt so sick and missed so much work time since March. And that source of stress is now gone. No more spite brigade searching for things to complain about. No more Doctor Evil complaining about my phone message, while finding a nearly-identical message from my colleague to be perfectly acceptable. No more feeling that I had to be perfect, every day in every way, so there'd be nothing for them to pick apart. No more feeling that no matter what I did, someone'd find a fault in it anyway. No more politely declining offers of help because they were motivated by the desire to tell the rest of the department, 'Look, she can't even handle her own work, I have to do it for her". No more limiting myself to asking questions of only certain people because the rest of them would tell the world, "She's so stupid, she didn't even know ___". No more staying until 7 PM on a Monday, Tuesday,
or Frid

Is it any wonder why I was getting migraines? Why I threw up at work and got carsick on the bus on the way there and/or on the way home? Why I missed more sick time in the past two months than I've ever missed in my life, minus the short-term-disability I was on when I dislocated my kneecap?

No freaking wonder they went through three people in six months, prior to hiring me last year. If the other three people had to put up with this nonsense, I can't blame them for bailing. That is, *IF* they actually bailed, rather than getting hounded to death and fired.

And no freaking wonder that instead of being as upset as I'd expected I would be on The Day After, the primary emotion I'm able to generate feels more like relief.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Well, they did it. The ax dropped today. My desk is cleared out and I'm on my way home.

It's odd. I figured I would have until at least Friday before being told of termination, which I've expected for a while now. Why? Because we are short-staffed due to two (count them, TWO) people on vacation, we have a a brand new manager who's been here for less than three weeks, AND the temp PSR we have had helping us since we're short-staffed has Friday off. Friday is one of our heaviest workdays because we have at least five doctors who work only on Fridays. That's on top of the two or three docs who are there more than one day per week. Friday would have been a zoo even with me there. It's going to be a bleeping nut farm now for sure.

And the boss two levels above me, who is a female version of Dilbert's pointy-haired manager, did this to herself. The loose filing is backed up halfway to the ceiling (did I mention we're short-staffed?) and it will be coming in in droves over the next two days.

And now we're -- oops, I should say THEY'RE going to be short *three* people. During which time I hope my ex-two-levels-above-me manager curses herself roundly for firing me a few days too soon. She couldn't have timed this worse if she'd sat down and PLANNED a way to ensure that my departure would be disruptive to the workflow.

I feel sorry for the new manager, my former immediate supervisor, who is a genuinely good person and doesn't deserve to be stuck in the middle of this. To her, to her predecessor, to the records room employee, and to some of the doctors (MAM and GYD spring to mind), thanks. To the spiteful ones, doctors and non-doctors alike, My goal is to forget your names, what you looked like, and the havoc you've wreaked on my physical, mental, and emotional health for all these months.

Tomorrow I'll file for unemployment.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

If only we'd get 777 in an Atlantic City casino instead of in an arcade! This was good for the bonus of 424 tickets at Dave & Buster's. :o)

Friday, May 12, 2006

Oh, and one more thing.

For years, I had a stock answer when someone asked, "How's it going?" It was, "So far, so good".

Then came the day I got the news that I was being downsized. For the next few weeks, I just couldn't bring myself to answer "So far, so good" when it feel like things were good at all. So my new response was, "I'm hanging in there".

Since that time, I've used "So far, so good" when things are going at least OK and "Hanging in there" when things aren't so great.

Today I have begun using yet another alternative, since things don't feel like they're even a little bit good and I'm certainly NOT feeling like I'm hanging in there. It's "Argh, don't ask!"

Just so you know, it's probably just a matter of days before I get pushed out of this job.

I spoke to the new manager this morning. The same complaining people have not stopped, which I figured would happen. One in particular, the doctor I ranted about in a post some weeks ago, specifically brought a message I took to the attention of the new manager. It was from a person requesting a new-patient appointment for her daughter. Because this doctor doesn't normally see new patients, we have to take a message with the pertinent information and leave it in a special folder in the doctor's inbox.

I took the message. I put it in the dr.'s inbox. At the time, I noticed another message from the SAME PERSON dated four days earlier, taken by the other front-desk person who works with me.

My note had info that hers didn't have. Her note had info that mine didn't have. Both mentioned that the patient's family doctor (mentioned by name) had spoken to OUR doctor about taking the patient on.

Our doctor complained to our manager that my note didn't have enough information in it. HELLO... She already had the same info four days earlier in the other note, PLUS according to the other note and mine, our doctor had already been apprised of the situation by the patient's own doctor. *AND*, what's more, our doctor did agree to see the patient, and the appointment was made yesterday.

I was able to document the fact that the older message existed because our message pads have carbon copies of all messages and we save them for several months before shredding them.

I got my old message pad that included messages from May 8, and turned to the copy of my message. Then I went through the stack of old message pads until I found my colleague's old pad containing her May 4 message. I put both pads on the manager's desk.

Next up: I have been having migraines, most decidedly stress-induced, at least once or twice a week for the past month. I called out sick about two weeks ago, and got sick again on Wednesday. It's two separate "occurrences", apparently, and that might count against me. I want to know how the F a person can be penalized for actually being freakin' SICK. I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow anyway, so I will get documentation that I am seeking treatment from him for migraines. (And acid reflux, since I woke up a few nights ago to find that there was... how can I describe this? Digestive backwash in my esophagus. Yuck, I know. If you think READING it is gross, try LIVING it.) If nothing else, it should prove that there is, in fact, a medical issue going on.

After I had the meeting with my manager, I went in the rest room and vomited. I suppose that's better than the alternative form of digestive rebellion that I've occasionally experienced due to stress. I don't think I can handle this stress anymore. If the health system lets me collect unemployment benefits, I might actually survive this whole experience with the remnants of my sanity and what's left of my digestive tract intact.

Geesh, even the Hell job at the Nameless Nationwide Department Store didn't actually bring on active nausea. Migraines, yes. Barfing, no.

I've had it with EVERYthing right now. Honestly HAD it with everything. The only reason I'm even attempting to eat this sandwich right now is that if I don't, the headache might come back. I've seen enough of those this week, and I know that not eating can cause them to happen. That goes double for the fact that I might as well have skipped breakfast, considering that it didn't stay around long enough to actually provide nourishment. If I get nauseous, at least all I have to do is, um, let my innards jettison unwanted material and the nausea will go away. If the headache comes back, heck only knows how long it'll last.

So anyway, if I have bad news to post regarding my job status in the next few days, don't be shocked. *I* will be shocked if I DON'T have bad tidings before long.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Oh, I love the internet. Love love love LOOOOVE the internet.

This afternoon while I was at work, out of nowhere I got an earworm. It was a song I haven't heard in quite a while: And the Glory of the Lord from Handel's Messiah.

I had the song on the brain in a major way, to put it mildly. And, having looked up "earworm" online a couple years back, I remembered reading that one way to get "rid" of an earworm is to listen to the song completely, from start to end. So for that reason, and also because I just plain like the music, I had a major need to listen to the song. The more time passed, the more I neeeeeeeeded to hear the song.

Hours passed. 5:30PM arrived. I came home from work. And my need to hear the song continued, unabated.

Unfortunately, do I own a copy of it that's easily located? No. I have a cassette tape with selections from Messiah on it, somewhere, but no clue where the tape has gotten to. Even if I'd found it, I'd have to play the fast forward/rewind game until I tracked down the song ON the cassette.

By 9:30 PM, I was ready to climb the walls for the lack of a way to listen to this song. And then the idea crossed my mind, "I wonder if there's a way to listen to the song online? SURELY someone's uploaded it to some web page somewhere."

Good old Google. No sooner did I enter a few terms into my favorite search engine, than I located this page:

http://www.peabody.jhu.edu/743

They give permission to download the music on their site for personal use, for free. HOO-freakin-RAY! That's just what the doctor ordered!

I downloaded And the Glory of the Lord and listened to it a few times.

My earworm is gone. I'm all better now. *PLUS* I now have some MP3s of selections from Messiah, to boot. Which I got for free. Legally. Within minutes of my clicking "search" on google.com.

Did I mention that I love the internet?

P.S. "And the glory, the glory of the Lord, sha-aa-all be-ee-ee-ee re-ve-eal-ed..."

Uh oh. I'd better listen to that MP3 again. ;o)

To: The world in general
Re: Hyphenated last names

OK, that does it. I can't withhold my question anymore. WHY is it that people with short names never hyphenate them? Do we get patients in here with easy names, like Fox-Day? NO. Of course not. The people who hyphenate their last names have to be the ones with about two zillion letters in BOTH halves of their name. I can't use examples of real patients' names, obviously, but I can think of some surnames of people I know (or know about) that could serve as equivalent examples of what we are dealing with on a daily basis at the front desk.

Imagine asking someone who is making their first appointment in your clinic to spell their last name, and hearing "Alabrudzinski-Radivojevic" come through the telephone. "That's hyphenated. Alabrudzinski HYPHEN Radivojevic". You think it's impossible for names like that to exist? Believe me, it isn't. I know.

So here are some rules of thumb for you people out there who are thinking of hyphenating your last name.

First of all, if the combination of names has more than six syllables or 20 letters, DON'T COMBINE NAMES. Pick a name and freaking stick with it, but don't try to stand with one foot in both camps. There are only 26 freaking letters in the alphabet, for Pete's sake. Why should someon's last name have more than that?

Second of all, listen to this programmer when I tell you that many, MANY software programs will allow a maximum of 20 letters for a surname. So what's going to happen? Your name will be truncated, that's what will happen. This will, and I do mean WILL, cause problems. For example, it's a colossal PITA to have to search online for doctors' referrals without having the EXACT patient's surname as it exists in the computer system. So of course, here I sit typing in "Alabrudzinski-Radivojevic" into the Navinet system, and no referrals are found. Why? Because letters have been truncated from the patient's surname in the Navinet system, and therefore I should be searching for "Alabrudzinski-Radivo" instead. Well, how in blazes am I supposed to know this? So time is wasted calling the primary care doctor and asking them to create a referral, when in fact they have already done so and the problem is that we can't FIND the thing.

Then there's the other bugaboo regarding computer software: not every system accepts hypens. Some programs will give an error message to the data entry peon who is trying to enter a hyphenated name into their computer system. So what's a peon to do? They might use a space (Alabrudzinski Radivojevic") or they might run the names together as one word "Alabrudzinskiradivojevic"). Did I mention that if you don't know the exact way that a name is spelled in the computer system, some search functions will return "no results found" when you try to search for it? So if you insist on combining surnames like this, PLEASE try to keep track of whose system spells your name which way. This will save countless amounts of time for yourself and for whomever you're doing business with.

Last, have you ever tried to write a 30-letter surname on a receipt? Have you? Well, you haven't lived until you have received a copay from Alpharetta Alabrudzinski-Radivojevic, and have had to handwrite a receipt for said patient. Including the fact that you have to fit her entire name into the amount of space that's physically alloted for a NORMAL length first and last name. Yeah, right. Good luck with that one. It can be done, but not if you actually want to be able to READ the name without employing a magnifying glass.

Anyway, so that's my take on hyphenated names. My blood pressure will, I hope, return to its normal level at some point later today, after I've recovered from dealing with the Hyphenated Name from H*ll.

Disclaimer: All three of those names exist: Alpharetta, Alabrudzinski, and Radivojevic. However, to the best of my knowledge they do not all belong to the same person. Thank goodness. If this combination matches the actual name of someone living or dead, then A) it's a coincidence and B) they have my utmost sympathy.