I have rheumatoid arthritis along with a few other conditions and spent the past month thinking I was the only one in my family uninsured (which would be a... parent_suck? heh!) thanks to a mis-communication. My RA had started flaring up a few months prior to this and I was, by last week, in a lot of pain. So much that I couldn't sleep some nights. Now, as soon as I found out that I actually AM insured, I looked up my primary doctor and was delighted to see that his practice is VERY welcoming to walk-ins. His building sign and website all have "WALK INS WELCOME!" all over it, with no rules as far as that goes posted anywhere. This is an important detail because while I have my license, I do not have a car to use from 9AM - 6PM and my doctor's hours are 8AM - 4PM with lunch from noon to 1PM. So, I figured I could ask around and get a ride, call in the morning I would be going and confirming that it is indeed A-OK to walk in.
So, that's what happens! A friend offers to give me a ride to his office around 10 to 11AM on a Tuesday. That morning, I call the office around 10AM to confirm that they accept walk ins and gauge how busy they are. The person I spoke to on the phone told me that they were not busy at all that morning, they don't even have appointments to fill, and that it would be fine to walk in. On the phone, she was sweet and upbeat and had me all happy to go in because, hey, friendly staff are always awesome! For the record, I didn't want to set an appointment because if I am not the one driving I cannot guarantee I will be punctual and they have a cancellation fee for appointments missed or canceled any sooner than 24 hours prior. I told her I would be walking in sometime after 11, but before 11:45 because I understood their break was at noon and I didn't want to interrupt that. She agrees that 11:45 would be cutting it too close but said I would be fine if I'm in before then. She thanks me, assures me this is all fine, and we hang up. Awesome, I am finally going to get some help! I filled out all six or seven pages of paperwork prior to going to save some time.
I get to their office just after 11:20, and sign in at the front desk. There is nobody in the office, nobody in the parking lot, nobody in the halls, and nobody on the sign in sheet before me. After less than a minute of being seated, the woman behind the desk calls me up to her and the following happens. It's important to note that the tone of both staff members was pretty cold:
Secretary?1: You're a walk in? No appointment?
Moi: Yes. I called and made sure this was okay earlier.
S1: Well we can't take walk-ins after 11.
Moi: What? I explained on the phone when I called less than an hour ago that I would be walking in after 11 and was told that's fine. I even have all of the paperwork done to make this faster.
S1: Well we still have to get your chart ready and that takes a long time...
Moi: I'm sorry but this is the first time I have heard of this rule.
S1: Well we can't see you. Can you come back after lunch?
Moi: No, my ride has an appointment herself at 2. Can I speak with the person I talked to on the phone?
At this point, in walks... a nurse? Another secretary? She had on normal clothes under a lab coat so I'm honestly not sure.
Secretary?2: I believe I'm who you talked to on the phone. We don't take walk ins after 11.
Moi: Yes, you sound like the person I spoke to. That isn't what you told me. I said I would be walking in after 11 and trying to get here well before your lunch starts.
S2: You said you wouldn't be here until 11:45! So...
Moi: No, I told you I would be getting here before 11:45 because you said 11:45 would be cutting it too close as a walk in. I have everything ready and I was told I could be seen as a walk in as long as its before 11:45.
S2: We don't take walk ins after 11.
Moi: So that's it then? I can't be seen today? I just have to leave without being seen?
S1 and S2 both echo that damn policy: We don't take walk ins after 11.
So, we leave. I'm almost in tears because I'm in a lot of pain and was very much looking forward to seeing a doctor, and my friend is angry because of how cold they were when dealing with me and because she knew how excited I was to be there. I already have a rheumatoid deformity on my left hand from previous medical sucks, and the longer I wait to get my right hand taken care of, the higher the chances are that I will have another deformity there, so it is important that I see a doctor and get this taken care of, fast, to minimize the permanent damage. I've never gone to a walk-in place before (because when I was uninsured, the only places I could possibly afford required you to be 200% below poverty level to receive cheaper care in the first place, so that wasn't happening) so I don't know if this sort of policy is commonplace or not, but my beef isn't with the policy, it's with wasting my time by telling me it's fine to walk in and then telling me the opposite when I have filled everything else and gotten a ride over there and being rude in the process. Grr.
I am switching doctors if only to not have to deal with his staff again. I'm appalled that the woman I spoke to on the phone would 1) not tell me about a policy I was apparently going to violate when I TOLD HER I would be walking in AFTER 11 and 2) outright lie about what I said to her. Not sure if I should write him and let him know why he lost a potential patient but I did take his card just in case I decide to. I guess there's a reason the place was so empty though, eh?
tl;dr: I call my doctor's office to confirm I can walk in sometime after 11AM, am told it is OK to do this, only to arrive and be turned away/refused to be seen by his staff because they do not accept walk ins after 11AM but told me on the phone that it would be fine for me to walk in after 11. Fun stuff.