Sometimes the red tape involved with medical care baffles me, especially when you see more than one provider at once.
Last week, my naturopath told me I looked like crap. She said it a lot nicer than that but basically she told me she was worried about the color of my skin and wanted my iron tested. So she wrote out a requisition for me to have my blood taken at a lab about 35 minutes from my house, the closest one in the chain of labs their clinic uses. She wanted me to do it this week.
I hate having my blood taken. I have bad veins and I’m frequently stuck multiple times before any blood comes out. Now it just so happened that I had an appointment to have blood drawn at the Magical Ultrasound Clinic of Joy this week. So I asked her if I could just have the Magical Ultrasound Clinic of Joy take a little extra blood and check it for iron.
She didn’t see why not so she told me to bring the requisition to the MUCJ and ask if they’d be willing to help me out. Well I was in a hurry this morning dealing with sick kids, sick me and sick Dan and I completely spaced bringing the form.
When I showed up at the MUCJ, I asked the nurse if she’d run the extra test and she said she couldn’t do it without consent from my doctor, without the form. As she gathered the vials and needle, I started to tear up a little. Without looking up, she offered, “I could call your doctor’s office and ask them to fax over a copy of the requisition while you wait out in the lobby.”
“No. It’s okay,” I answered. “I’ve got babysitting issues. My husband’s home sick with the kids and I promised him I’d be quick and home in time to make lunch.” I’ll just drive back out to the lab another day and get it taken again.
But she wouldn’t give up. She wanted to help. “I could take the extra blood and then see if I can get them to fax in the requisition and if they do, I could run the tests. If not, I’d just toss the extra blood.”
I thanked her profusely and headed home, making a quick stop to pick something up at a nearby store while I was in the area. My cell phone rang. It was the helpful nurse from the MUCJ. She said that the naturopath’s office would only use their specific lab, a different lab than the MUCJ worked with but if the naturopath’s lab was willing to send over a courier to pick up the blood, that would work just fine.
The naturopath’s lab has one person working in the office. The same person who checks you in takes your blood. I told her that I could not imagine them using a courier service. Again I thanked her but told her I’d just have to come back again another day and do the draw again. THEN she offered to drive the blood over to the lab herself when she got off work that day. Okay. Cookies, flowers, something. This woman’s got something coming to her.
“I’m not comfortable asking you to do that, but I’m still fairly close, I could come by and get my blood and drive it over to them.”
I asked her if there was any way I could avoid paying $4 again to park in their garage for 5 minutes while I ran in to get the specimen. (I love saying and writing “specimen”. It just sounds so creepish.) She said just to pull up in the roundabout outside the office building, call the office and ask for her and she’d run it out to my car… in the pouring rain. Bless this woman!
So I called my naturopath’s office and asked them if they’d fax the form over to the lab so my blood transport wouldn’t be in vain. No. They said they couldn’t do it because my doctor wasn’t in this morning. I asked if one of the other doctors in the practice could write one up since the information was on my chart. It’s not like I was calling up out of the blue asking for a prescription for medical marijuana. I just wanted to see if my blood had enough iron. Could a test like that ever be harmful? She said she’d check. After a few minutes she came back and said one of the other doctors was willing to do it.
Then I asked her if she had the address of the local lab for me. No. She didn’t have it. Apparently they normally use the Lynnwood lab so she didn’t have access to the address I needed. I visualized her sitting at her desk with her computer hooked to the internet unwilling to google for me and then visualized the nurse at the Magical Ultrasound Clinic of Joy who was willing to look up the address and DRIVE MY BLOOD OVER TO THE LAB AFTER SHE GOT OFF WORK and I asked politely, “If you don’t have the information for the local lab, how are you going to fax the form over to them?”
She said she was planning on looking it up in a couple of minutes.
“Could I hold until you get a chance to do that?”
She said I could and in 30 seconds she had the address for me. I thanked her and apologized for causing all this trouble. “I just didn’t think it would be this hard,” I confided.
“I know. It shouldn’t be,” she conceded.
When I pulled into the roundabout at the UCJ’s office and called up for my nurse, she was down to my car within 60 seconds, a smile on her face and a baggie of blood in her hand. I believe I professed my love for her. Then I drove the 3 blocks to the lab.
When I got there, baggie of blood vials in hand, I gave the lab employee the short version of my story and asked if she’d gotten a fax from my Naturopath’s office. No. She hadn’t.
I did sort of a “follow my eyes” movement over to the fax machine. She followed my eyes and reached the 18 inches to the piece of paper lying face down on the fax machine.
“Your last name?” she asked.
“Yeah. I’ve got it.” Then she smiled and said she’d get it taken care of and I suddenly liked her a teeny bit more.
My naturopath’s office is efficient and well run. They’ve stayed open late for me more than once so I could come after Dan got home from work and taken as much time as I needed. My doctor there is one of the most patient and empathetic medical professionals I’ve ever met. Maybe their office staff was just having a rough day today. It was the contrast in the two offices that was so startling.
I don’t think anyone was being malicious or trying to give me the runaround and one person went WAY above and beyond the call of duty. I know that different doctors’ offices contract with different labs. But I still don’t understand why it had to be so hard. Why can’t every person be as helpful and kind as the MUCJ nurse? Why doesn’t everyone get it? Why can’t we all just get along? Why can I keep down a McDonald’s hamburger but not rice?
These are the questions that trouble me today.