Friday, May 14, 2010

Two Months Later

I've finally been scheduled for surgery.  May 27th at 9 am.  The long delay had nothing to do with the VA and everything to do with the doctor's office and his monster of an office manager.

The VA wanted to do the surgery in house but after hearing my situation, the head of the VA in Reno agreed to let me see the oncologist in town.  Neither of my brothers has contacted me, they're probably too afraid I might ask them to help me with mom while I recover.  Which is why Dr. Brilliant (yes that really is his name) agreed that a week in San Francisco and a six week recovery time probably wasn't the best way to treat my cancer and take care of mother.  It was agreed that I was under enough stress as it was.

Throughout this whole ordeal the VA has been extremely supportive and has operated in the manner of what's best for me.  That all came to a screeching stop once I moved out of the system and into the world of private insurance.  Then it became all about the bottom line and not what was best for me.

The referral from the VA specified that it would reimburse at Medicare rates.  This wasn't good enough for the bubble headed bleach blond with way too much makeup on and clothes that were at least one size too small.  From the moment I started dealing with her she treated me as if I was a developmentally delayed two year old with hearing problems. 

She refused to schedule my seeing the doctor until she had personally spoken with the entity responsible for paying the clinic.  She finally scheduled my appointment...for three weeks later.  I finally see the doctor and he wants to use the da Vinci robot as the recovery time is one day in hospital and three to four weeks at home.  I was so jazzed.  Until I left the conference room and had to deal with the pit bull masquerading as the office manager.

She told me flat out that she wouldn't schedule the surgery until the exact codes had been approved and that I was to have the VA call her, but not for the next few days because one of the office staff wasn't coming in and she didn't have time to deal with my case until Friday or the next week.  I was stunned speechless.  Never, never would I have ever told one of my patients that I couldn't deal with their problem because it was more important that I answer the phone.  Nor would I have made an ill patient responsible for finding the correct fee billing person and setting up a conference call.  And I had a one woman office.

I went back to the VA and talked with the doctor whose timely intervention had caught my cancer.  It turns out she has had dealings with the *itch and had been yelled at also.  The woman definitely has a reputation for being obnoxious and is known throughout Reno as being difficult to deal with.

Everything has been taken care of and I'm hoping that the two month delay has not allowed the cancer to progress from Stage 1 to Stage 2.  The differences between the VA and private practice are striking.  One is interested in taking care of the patient, the other is interested in taking care of its wallet.  After the surgery I plan on filing a complaint with the doctor and suggesting that the office manager should take classes in empathy and how to deal with patients under stress.  Or maybe she should take her skills and attitude to a job more suited to her disposition...such as a debt collection agency.



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  2. You are in my thoughts, Deb.

    Frick the greedy bastards in the health-care system. Between the VA and your own fortitude you will come through this just fine.