Thursday, November 19, 2009
As usual Yes Minister was ahead of us, "The Compassionate Society."
A couple of days ago I went down to the VA medical center. My eyes have been giving me some trouble and I fear it is getting worse. Some years ago I had Lasik and it worked great. A year ago, after the bullets did not hit the target at FLETC, I had the surgeon who did the job take a look and he said that physically everything was good. Since my focus seems to slip on occasion now I fear that I might have sustained an injury in training that is manifesting itself and could at worst case produce an aneurysm. Of course it could just be age and dog hair or a cold in my system.
At the VA in Manhattan I was seen remarkably fast by the intake nurse. After waiting less than half an hour she listened to me, took my BP and weight, gave me a flu shot, and asked me a series of questions that the VA mandates "Were you ever sexual assaulted on active duty?" That made me mention my last active duty CO's Fitness Report. "Do you have any thoughts of depression or suicide?" That got me to mention that I would rather give others reason to have such thoughts than have them myself. The nurse loved me. A nice young woman was the Dr who took a look and checked reflexes and then told me to go up to Opthalmology, where they would look at me and decide if I should go to Neuro. When I got upstairs the clerk at the desk, if you open the dictionary to GS-5 you will see his portrait, asked me my name. I spelled out my name for him and added my last 5 as he looked up the referral in the computer. His phone rang and he juggled a personal call and my records. He got it wrong and I repeated the process. He asked me my name again and I spelled it. He then said "No, your name is XXX isn't it? That is your name." This was clearly a bully who got his jollies in a very dull job by asserting authority over the Veterans who must come to him before they can see a physician. He said my record said "routine" and I would have to make an appointment. When I said the Dr had indicated that she expected me to be seen today he then said that there were two notations and he disappeared into the back and came out a minute later and said I was to come back for an appointment in December. Arguing the point would clearly only result in terrible things happening to my records. After making the appointment I went back downstairs and informed the nurse at intake and she promised to inform the referring Dr.
The system is stuffed with people like the clerk. The more that government gets to influence healthcare the more it will resemble the VA. Most of the people are in fact caring, the professional staff who are part of the NYU hospitals are excellent and caring. The problem is that adding government to the mix, at the top end with lawyers and at the bottom end with clerks, only makes things worse.