Eva Whitley (wouldyoueva) wrote in bad_service,
Eva Whitley

Kaiser Permenante Urgent Care

My throat was sore and my ear ached, but I didn't have a fever, so I thought I'd call the advice nurse to see if I needed to be seen by a doctor or could I get a prescription for a painkiller.
After hearing my symptoms, she advised me to go to their nearby Urgent Care center. They gave me a 4:10 appointment, but told me to show up by 3:10 PM to have a strep test. No problem, I thought. I'll have the test, run some errands for about 45 minutes, then come back. Makes sense, right?

I show up at 3 PM. I expected to check in, get sent to the lab, and then leave for 45 minutes. I hoped to get some shopping done nearby, as it's about half an hour away and I'm not usually in that neighborhood.

I have my throat swabbed (gag!). I head upstairs back to the reception desk. "Have a seat! We'll bring you back in a few minutes." What? When I said I had made an appointment for 4:10, they airily informed me that the advice nurses were operating from outdated procedures. Why didn't I leave? I figured they knew what they were doing.

So I grabbed a magazine, and started to wait. The chair was comfy, and if I tired of reading, there was a TV nearby (playing football, true, but it was still something to watch). They called me back, and I followed the nurse down several hallways, finally ending up in an examining room. "The doctor will be right with you."

Most of the time that usually means that within 5-10 minutes the doctor comes back. I waited 5 minutes, sitting on the examining table. I waited 10 minutes. 15. 20. 30. Finally, at 45 MINUTES I went looking for a nurse to say they should send the test results to my GP and I'd call her tomorrow to see if she wanted to see me, if the results were positive. My reasoning was that if the delay was caused by being slammed with emergencies, my problem was minor enough to wait a day and it'd be one fewer patient to worry about.

I tracked down a nurse to ask what the problem was and she told me, "We lost 2 of our docs, but we've called more in. Just wait."

So I waited for another 15 minutes, decided that my doctor could call up the results tomorrow, but it was crazy to wait around. I went to the reception desk to tell them I was leaving. A guy with a clipboard said, "I have your chart here. If you just go back, you'll be seen next." (My clipboard wasn't back with the examining rooms? But I was? Weird.)

I waited some more, then I barely tamped down my anger, and went to leave again. They promised to send back a doctor. Five minutes later, he shows up. The time is now 4:10 PM. Yes, exactly for when my appointment was.

He pulls my record off the computer screen. While doing so, I can see the names of everyone else being treated then, and what their complaints are (I guess they're not worried about HIPPA violations). Guess what! The results of my strep test aren't in the computer yet! Maybe that would be because...THE TEST TAKES AN HOUR TO CULTURE! And that's why the advice nurse tells one to show up an hour in advance to get it done.

So, back to the comfy chaired waiting room, back to reading for 5 minutes while they wait for the results to show up.

No, I don't have strep throat. To his credit, the doctor treating me was very apologetic. He offered me tylenol with codeine and I took it. After a minor wait at the pharmacy--I was in the middle of giving my information to the clerk there, and was explaining that I'd like to pick up another prescription that I was told was in their system, when she wandered off to look for my prescription. Which, of course, had not been sent yet because it takes a few minutes to be put in, and I was just about to tell her that when the clerk decided she didn't have to listen to what I had to say. Ten minutes later, it was done but I wasn't sure if I should go up to the counter because my name was on their "go to the pick-up counter" board the entire time, even though my prescription wasn't done yet.

They have a whole procedure in place (test, then wait, then come back for results at a specified time, plus their pharmacy procedure) that seems like it works in other places but the crew at Urgent Care decided to screw with it and guess what? it screwed me up in that time I had hoped to run errands was spend sitting on an examining table so long my leg fell asleep. They got stressed with an angry patient ignored for 3/4 of an hour. I didn't get to see a doctor any sooner than I would have had they honored the original appointment. There was no point bringing me back sooner because they wouldn't have test results. The procedure would have worked if they had followed it.

Why would they be pulling a stunt like this during open enrollment season? Do they want fewer customers? Do they want bad word of mouth? I feel sorry for the marketing people at Kaiser who have to try to keep customers. I feel sorry for the staff that worked out a procedure that allowed them to see patients without long waits but by ignoring that procedure, they possibly lost a customer. Who is telling other customers. What other business thinks losing customers is A-OK?

Granted, compared to some of the hair-raising medical stories posted here recently, having to wait for around an hour is almost benign. But it can't be considered GOOD service.

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