Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Uncompassionate care… and the lessons it teaches…


This happens. 

Having worked in a variety of health care settings, including leading a large group practice, I know that sometimes you strive to provide the best customer service and the most compassionate care possible.  But that doesn’t always happen. 

It’s incumbent on providers and administrators to build systems with appropriate checks and balances so that situations such as the one below never happen.

In an email to all VNAB employees last week, I touted the importance of good communication.  This is what Paula Dercolo wrote back:

Hi Rey,

I recently accepted a new position within the VNA (January 4th).  Prior to that, I was the South End Team Coordinator for two years.  While the transition was both demanding and challenging, I jumped in with my eyes wide open and ready to go.  Because of a situation I experienced last week, “communication” has taken on a whole new meaning for me.  As I sat in the waiting room of my MD’s office, I listened in on a conversation that a woman was having with the receptionist.  She was a 47-year old who was in to see the doctor the day before.  She was sent to the hospital (by her physician) for further testing and was told to come back to the doctor’s office the following day.  The receptionist proceeded to tell her because she did not have an appointment, the doctor could not see her.  The woman started to cry.  She was diagnosed at the hospital with MS the day before, wanted to speak to her physician about her new diagnosis, and needed to have her pain medication adjusted.  She tried - to no avail – to see the doctor that day.  She stated “even though I don’t have an appointment, and you people told me to come back today, I can wait”.  The receptionist said “the best that I can do is schedule you an appointment tomorrow.”  The woman left the office crying, no pain medication, an appointment card in her hand and her life altered forever.  No matter how hard she tried to communicate this to the receptionist, she would not budge.  I wonder if the MD is aware of how his employees communicate to his patients.  As I develop my new role here at the VNAB, I will remember this woman for a very long time.

1 comment:

  1. I agree ..communication is vital in all aspectes of life and it enhances the care that a patient receives .