Sick and tired of waiting

Published on July 21, 2014

I’m searching for the scarcest commodity in this province. I will never find it, however. It simply doesn’t exist.

I’m a cancer patient and I would like to say from the outset that the medical treatment I have received from the health professionals has been nothing short of stellar.

My wife just had a premature baby and the staff at the Janeway are fantastic. I sing all their praises every day and will continue to sing them until the day one of them declares me dead.

But Eastern Health’s administration and patient wait times suck. This patient has lost his patience and I blame the doctors.

I blame them because the buck is supposed to stop with them. All they have to do is to issue a directive to their staff that when a patient is kept waiting more than 10 minutes past his/her appointment time, a revised time when he/she can expect to see the doctor is provided.

Hang a clock, for goodness sake, and adjust it to reflect how long the doctor is behind schedule. Set it for an hour at the start of day and adjust it from there.

I don’t want to complain but I have to. I don’t understand why patients are treated like unnecessary side-effects.

Why, in the name of all that is reasonable, can’t patients be informed that the doctor is running late and it will be another 15 or 30 or 45 minutes before he/she can see you? I fully understand that some patients need more time than was anticipated.

Recently, I was told by a friend who was visiting his family doctor that he waited over three hours for his appointment.

He found out a few days later that the doctor, a father, had been called to his child’s school to pick up his ill son. This “professional” left his patients waiting without as much as a word to them.

How do we deal with that type of callousness?

Last week, I had a 9 a.m. appointment for an endoscopy. I arrived at 8:45, having fasted from 10 p.m. the previous evening.

I left at 10:15 a.m. after watching the staff go on their breaks, taking their snacks with them. I left because I was thirsty and hungry and because I am sick and tired of the way we are treated while waiting to see the doctors.

No explanation was given why I had to wait. I am not worthy of knowing, I guess.

While undergoing chemotherapy for my cancer, I had to wait, sometimes, four hours for the drugs to arrive from the lab.

Never, in 12 treatments, did the drugs arrive on time. The nurses stood by helplessly, but they did give me the number to the lab.

I spoke to the lab supervisor on one occasion who came to the treatment room and explained that it was because it was Tuesday and that was their busiest day. It meant nothing to him that chemo drugs can be prepared 24 hours in advance.

He gave me such a line that the patients who heard what he was saying joined me in laughing. One patient commented that he couldn’t manage a busy morning at Tim Hortons. I was given his number to call the next time the drugs were late. I called. He was on vacation.

Does anyone realize or even care about the lost productivity of workers in this province because of this situation? I understand that sometimes a doctor may have to spend more time with a patient than expected. But why can’t the receptionist explain to the waiting patients the reason why the doctor is behind schedule? Why, while we are waiting in an emergency room, can’t someone walk around the room and tell us that they have had some real emergencies and it will be another hour or two. Not knowing how long I have to wait is incredibly stressful.

I’ve wasted 20 minutes writing this letter and nothing will change. I have to stop now because my 11:30 a.m. appointment is here. If I screw him around he will bring his business somewhere else.

If I had to pay the medical doctors directly, like my dentist, who is never late, instead of via my taxes, maybe they would be on time.

So, what is the scarcest commodity in this province?

A doctor who keeps his/her appointments on schedule.

I’d give a lot to find one of them and I will give that person all my business.

Tom Badcock

St. John’s