Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Just a Suggestion

Today I spent 2 hours at the doctor's office with Eli. 110 minutes were spent waiting in a tiny room while Eli repeatedly pushed the rolling stool into the metal examination table and licked the floor. The other 10 minutes were spent talking with Eli's pulmonologist to hear that he has no lingering lung issues and is discharged from his care.


ONE.HUNDRED.AND.TEN.MINUTES. TWO.HOURS. With a toddler. With a hungry toddler. With a hungry, active toddler. With a hungry, active toddler who desperately needs a nap.

I texted Eric every 15 minutes to let him know we were still waiting in that tiny room. I talked about how rude it was to let your patients wait for 2 hours with the full knowledge that they have a small child in tow. I entertained Eli with a bottle of hand sanitizer and a tongue depresser. I let him chew on the crayons in the communal bucket. And when he had a dirty diaper that needed to be changed and stunk up the whole room, I smiled not a little fiestily, secretly happy that when the doctor FINALLY got around to us, he'd be hit in the face with a gust of poopy air.

And then the doctor came in and gave a really good excuse about why he was late. I mean, it was totally justifiable, and I actually felt bad for the guy. Plus he's about the nicest man in the world. He reminds me of the old character "Guy Smiley" from Sesame Street. He introduces himself as "Andy," not "Dr. So-And-So." He messes with Eli's hair and plays peek-a-boo with him. He compliments his development and praises his progress. And then he tells me as he shakes my hand before leaving that I am "one of the nicest people we see in this office."

(I'm pretty sure he wouldn't have said that if he heard my evil thoughts during the 2-hour wait.)

And then we drove home, me embarking on an embarrassing monologue of all the things that we were passing in a very loud and high-pitched voice in an attempt to keep Eli awake, and Eli sleeping soundly in the back seat.

Anyway, all that to announce my suggestion to reform waiting time in pediatrician offices: If you are an office staff employee who knows that the doctor is running more than 30 minutes late, CALL THE PATIENTS WITH SUBSEQUENT APPOINTMENTS!

"Ma'm, I'm sorry, but Dr. G is running 2 hours late today. Would you mind arriving at our office at 12pm instead of 10:15am? Or we would be happy to reschedule you for a more convenient time." No parent is going to yell angrily, "NO, I insist on coming to your office and waiting for 2 hours in a tiny room!" Any parent in his/her right mind would welcome this knowledge and gladly come a little later or on a different day. A phone call or two would save the sanity of many a mother in a waiting room with their small child. How's that for healthcare reform?