...the Journal

The Guest
Refrigerator Door

The new magnets are from Jeri's refrigerator. Jeri's fridge has some unusual stuff attached to it.

Take you back to
"Fun with Dick and Jane"?

* NEW *

Someone suggested I add a discussion board, so I have.

If you have anything to discuss, go to this link. Feel free to start a new discussion on anything.


I'm a Stranger Here Myself

Bill Bryson

I enjoyed his Australia book so much, I decided to try the one about this country.


Battersea Park Road
to Enlightenment

(this is a book I picked up in London)


The Castro
(Local PBS Station look at the Castro district in San Francisco)

That's it for today!



9 June 2001

I took my friend to the doctor today. She isn’t one of the Breaking Barriers clients; she’s a Breaking Barriers employee who had minor surgery a week ago and was going back to see her doctor for her first follow-up.

We got to the office a bit early for her 1:30 appointment. She had spoken with someone on the phone the previous day to confirm the appointment time. 1:30. Yep. That was it.

Only when we got to the office, it turns out they had her in the computer for a 2:30 appointment. We didn’t discover this until we’d been sitting there for nearly an hour and watching people who arrived after we did being taken in for their appointments.

The wait wasn’t really that bad. She and I are getting to know each other and are going to be working on a project together, so the hour-plus time in the waiting room gave us a chance for some "getting to know you better" time.

But whether we were comfortable with the long wait or not, it brought back my days as manager of a medical office and that always-ticklish situation: patient appointment time.

Oh lord. How we struggled with that. Even before we were taken over by the money-grubbing, patient-cheating Big Corporation, this was a problem. We had the reputation of being the best women’s office in town. We had three doctors. Two of them always ran on time. One never did. She was the most popular one. She was warm, motherly, and she gave you all the time you needed. If you showed up for a 10 minute appointment and she saw on your chart that you hadn’t had an annual exam in a year, she’d give you an annual exam (time: 30 minutes). If you were having a bad day and were close to tears, she’d take you into her office and let you talk it all out. She didn’t let you go until all your questions were answered, your problems were solved, your tears were dried and your shots were up to date.

Of course, that meant that she had patients backed up in the waiting room. Complaining. Loudly. Bitterly. To the staff. They had every right to complain. It’s not right to make a patient wait for over an hour for a minor appointment. And so we’d try to explain why she was taking so long. The patients would get more angry. They’d rearranged their schedule for her and how dare she keep them waiting. Patients would bring more than one office clerk to near tears. And it never got any better.

When the patient was finally called, a nurse would take her into an office to get her vital signs. And the patient would yell at the nurse. Then the patient would be left in the office to wait while the doctor finished up with the previous patient. Sometimes for a long time. The nurses would check on the patient and always get an earful from the patient, who was blowing steam out her ears.

And then the doctor would arrive. Motherly. Warm. Totally focused on the patient. And in a matter of seconds, the patient’s ire would be gone and she’d be confessing all her hopes, dreams and fears to the doctor who would give her more time than she was scheduled because she’d had to wait so long. And by the time the office closed, at 5 p.m., it was not uncommon to have two or three patients still waiting for their time with the doctor.

While this sounds like everyone’s idea of the ideal doctor (minus the wait, of course), in contrast we had another doctor who ran completely on time. Gave the patients his undivided attention, worked efficiently, yet empathetically. No patients had to wait unless he was called away for surgery or for some other emergency. The patients loved him too.

Then Big Greedy Corporation took us over. The doctors fought long and hard to keep things The Way They Always Were, pointing out that we had the best reputation in town. But lengthy appointments were not on the BGC’s agenda. They let things for for awhile, but when spreadsheets entered the picture, the word came down from on high. All appointments were to be scheduled for 10 minutes. An annual exam, previously a 30-45 minute appointment, could extend to 20 minutes, but they preferred if we double-booked appointments. Have one patient in one room and another in another and let the doctor run back and forth between the two.

Motherly Doctor couldn’t make the cut and she left. The other doctor is still there, but the heart has gone out of his work. He can’t possibly know his patients under the new scheduling regimen. And when the heart went out of his work, it all became perfunctory and routine. He’s going to retire soon anyway.

Patients are being seen more quickly now, but the kind of personalized service for which we were noted had had to take a back seat to the assembly-line approach to medicine.

I’m glad I’m not there any more.

One Year Ago:
I Leap Into Action

Some pictures from this journal
can be found at
Club Photo

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Created 6/8/01 by Bev Sykes