Are Today’s Doctors Caring Less About Their Patients, More About Their Wallets?

Is the wave of the future of healthcare to have docs give up private offices and move into clinics where they share staff and resources?

I recently had cataract surgery.  I need another at the end of this month but, the very people who have cared for me throughout all of this time and my surgery, have all been fired.  I learned of this news yesterday in a post-op check-up and pre-op visit.

This is the third of my specialists who have opted out of a private office, fired their staffs and moved into a clinic setting where they share common secretaries, assistants and offices.  It’s not that a patient can go to any of the docs in the clinic should your doc not be available either.  It appears to be simply a cost saving arrangement for the docs.

Ok, everyone is entitled to make the most money that they can by cutting down overhead expenses.  However, this has been an ongoing trend with docs and not many are pleased with the arrangements on several fronts.

Firstly, many people are now out of work.

Secondly, as a patient, there is no real personalized care nor, the ability to get help when you need it.

As I was being told the news yesterday and being handed a card with this doc’s new address on it, I couldn’t help feeling sadness for the staff and anger at this move of hers.  I hugged each of the staff who had been taking such wonderful care of me throughout the years of being a patient there.  I choked up and tears fell, along with theirs.  Each and every one of them are beautiful people who make a clinical and cold feeling doctor’s visit, much more pleasant, caring and feeling less stressful.  They are the “Front Line”.  They are the ones who help the patients more than the doctor does.  Yet, all of these wonderful people are being put out of jobs and, with the employment situation being what it is in the world today, likely will have a tough time in finding another job easily, quickly or perhaps, not at all.  I felt their pain and selfishly, I felt my own as I will miss all of them and their caring, loving, kindnesses, terribly.

If you have a doctor who works out of a clinic setting, sharing resources, you likely can understand what it is that I’m talking about when I say that there is no personalized care in these settings.  You’re asked for your insurance or health cards (depending upon where you live in this world) and you’re asked to take a seat amongst dozens of other people, waiting to see either your doc or another.  The staff is hurried, overworked, underpaid (for all that they do) and, you are nothing but another number and chart in their day.  There is no time to get to know us as people.  We’re simply “next” on their pile of charts after we’ve checked in.

The doctors are also often less prepared as things don’t run as personally or smoothly and even fraught with errors with a clinical setting like this one.  That already puts a doctor into a less personalized mode and way of thinking because this setting tends to lend itself to de-personalization.  An already cold feeling doc especially, a specialist, will appear even less personable to their patients.

Moreover, try getting through to get questions answered or appointments booked when you have a problem that needs tending to by your doc under these circumstances.  Being nothing but a number, a chart, another phone call message jotted down on a piece of paper and shuffled onto a desk, along with dozens of others, does not make the patient feel secure that they’ll ever receive a return call.  I cannot count the number of times that I’ve not had a return call because messages haven’t gotten to the doctors or been lost and, ended up in an E.R., waiting for hours to be seen to ask simple questions or make an appointment to ask those questions.  I’ve been seen and met by simply another frazzled, overworked doctor and set of staff who are looking after dozens upon dozens of unknown patients, likely also in the same boat.

What struck me most as I looked at the card I’d been given with the new address on it was that not only was all of the above, applicable but, I was also now having to go a much further distance, little parking, congested area and not exactly the nicest of areas of the city that I live in.  Did she care?  That’s all that was running through my mind.  Several other patients grumbled as they realized where they’d also have to go now.

“Aren’t we what matters?” one woman, sitting beside me, wondered allowed.  “Why would she want all of her patients to have to travel to this area?”

I couldn’t have agreed with her more.

This led to a whole realm of other questions as well but, the main one that seemed to be running through most of our minds was, did the doctor care more about her patients or her wallet?

Thankfully, this woman is not someone I will be seeing on a regular basis, such as my primary care or family physician but moreover, she is the one who will do the most stress-filled work with us as patients.  She will be the one doing the surgeries and it will be her that we will have to address our questions to.  It will be the common staff that will be answering (or, from experience, not) answering our calls and being the front line.  That, in and of itself, makes it stress filled.

Where are the days when local shops knew us as customers as opposed to big box chain stores, restaurants, banks and other services who are so large and cold that no one has the chance to get to know us and treat us like people with names and faces and, bottom lines weren’t laying in their back pocket wallets?  Even our veterinarians have turned their practises into big business and a lot of them end up selling out to having other vets running their practises while they reap in the money by raping our wallets.  No one seems to care personally anymore.  At least, it’s rare to find that in anything or anyone in today’s world.

Healthcare is one of the most important parts of our lives besides our families and friends.  Without good health, other things don’t mean as much or go as far.  Our health rules our lives and we need good doctors and good healthcare to have that to the best of both ours and their abilities.

What will happen to this doctor’s staff now that they are all out of jobs?

What will happen to us, as patients and our health because of this choice that’s been made for all of us by a doctor who is thinking of her own circumstances, not everyone else’s?

Whatever lays ahead, it’s seemingly the new trend with doctors nowadays and it’s not to our best interests but, rather theirs.  While it’s hard to find a doctor in today’s world and especially, some countries, it’s making me want to boycott docs who do this type of thing to their patients and their staffs.

That may not be possible but, it’s the way that I’m seeing things from my little corner of life at this moment.

If Companies Were Run Like Some Doctor’s Offices They’d Be Out of Business

phoneDoctors are businesses in and of themselves.  If any other company was run the way that some doctor’s offices are run, they’d be out of business.

I’ve recently had need to see a medical specialist.  It’s not that I love doctors and having to take time off of work to go to see them.  Nor, do I love to take even more time off to go through the multitude of tests that they will inevitably put most of us through and then, more time to go back for the results, which usually leads to either a treatment plan or the statement, “we’ll see you in (blank amount of time) and keep an eye on things,” if everything turns out alright but, the problem is still there.

What irks me most about this entire “specialist” process is that there are some that make getting ahold of the country’s president or prime minister easier to do than getting through to their offices and office staff.

There have been a couple of specialist’s offices that do not answer their phones during the working day.  You never get to speak to a human being.  There is only voicemail to speak to and that, can be disarming and leave patients with insecurity.

When a patient has a health issue that requires seeing a specialist, it’s usually not an insignificant problem.  Some of them can be quite alarming or frightening.  That means that when a patient has an ongoing issue and needs guidance, they should be able to get through to a real, live person and not a voicemail message which leaves you feeling uncertain, uneasy and unheard.  Not only that but, it’s not always possible to continue calling back or, to receive a return call to discuss or answer their questions while at work or out amongst the public.  Who wants to discuss their health issues and concerns while out in public or take a personal call during work hours when you’re not supposed to get personal calls during working hours?

The last few months, I’ve had an ongoing set of issues that have been both troublesome and worrisome;.  I was put on a treatment plan that came with side effects as well as the initial effects of the problem itself.  Even the tests were invasive and caused a few days to a week to recover from.

During these six or so months, I’ve had three occasions where I’ve needed either an answer or to book an appointment.  All that I got on many tries at calling over two weeks, was their voicemail and only able to leave a message, telling them what I was calling about and leaving a number where I could be reached for a return call. Normally, that wouldn’t be as much of a problem, if, calls were returned within a reasonable amount of time.  However, that’s not how this office works. Their voicemail clearly states that the receptionist is either “assisting a patient or away from her desk”.  It then goes on to say that “if this is an emergency, please go to your local hospital”.  Anyone been in a hospital ER lately?  The usual wait time is anywhere from 4 to 14 hours to be seen.  Not an option to just ask a question and certainly not what is needed for a non-urgent situation or, to simply make an appointment.

Realizing that much, I waite to hear the rest of the instructions before getting to the portion where you can actually leave a message.  That is when you hear, “due to the large volume of calls per day, please leave only ONE message and allow 24 to 48 hours for a return call.  Your call will be returned in priority sequence.”

You leave your message complete with details and a return number but, this now leaves you with at least a 24 to 48 hour window to expect a call back.  Do you know where you’re going to be every moment of the next 24 to 48 hours?  I don’t.  I could be in the shower or, doing my grocery shopping, at work where I’m not supposed to be receiving personal calls unless it’s a dire emergency from a family member.  I could be taking my dog out for his walk or I might, heaven forbid, be in the bathroom when that one call comes and I have to start that process all over again or, worst of all, you’re with others and you can’t ask the questions you need and want to ask.

There are so many more scenarios that I think all of us can think of that cause us to start panicking over not only the original issue we called about but, how we can’t make ourselves totally available for 24 to 48 hours, making it totally unreasonable to expect. The last two times I’ve had to call that office, I was in somewhat of a panic over certain issues that arose during treatment.  I really needed answers as to what was going on and whether or not I needed to be seen.  I got the voicemail message as usual.  I tried. I really did try to call several dozen times to see if I could catch the receptionist either at her desk or not assisting another patient.  There wasn’t a time that it happened.  As a matter of fact, I’ve been in that office and watched her.  She’s been at her desk the entire 2 plus hours that I’ve been waiting and besides having to book another appointment for someone, her pretty little rear never left that chair nor, was she constantly with patients.  She brooded and moaned about how busy she was to every patient that walked out from seeing the doctor but, she was there and often talked about her tea or the type of vacation she was going to take next.  Chit-chat that took up time but, not time on that phone.

The past couple of times that I’ve called, I’ve waited for over a week and not received a call back.  That’s resulted in having to break the rules and leave yet, a second message (gasp).  Two days after that again, I finally received a return call.  Both were at totally inopportune times.  Try giving your personal details and information while at a check-out that you cannot escape or, being at work with your manager by your desk, upset that you’re taking a personal call.  Both have happened to me with this system.

Again, it’s been two days without a return call and I’m concerned.  I can’t get the answers anywhere else right now so, I’m stuck in this system, filled with worry and impatience.  This time though, I’ve waited the 24 hours and called again, leaving a second message.  They can get as ticked as they want to but, this is a service and a business and it’s my health.  I have a right to not be held hostage by a little twirp, sitting behind a desk, worried about her coffee getting cold and chatting about her flight with the nurse or a patient who could give a damn about it and just wants out of the office to go on with her day as she’s already been there for 3 hours.

Yes, I’d love to go to another specialist and drop this office’s rear end in the dust but, this isn’t the only doctor’s office that I’ve run into this problem with.  Worst of all, most doctors especially specialists, are only in the office 3 or so days out of a week or, are not taking on new patients.  It’s not easy to change without a 3 or 4 month wait for an appointment with them nor, to start all over again with someone new.

I have run businesses and I work for one.  I can tell you that if any of these companies were to operate the way that these doctor’s offices are run, they’d quickly be closing their doors. Why can doctors get away with this?  They shouldn’t.  It’s time to speak up when we find these types of situations.  It is, afterall, our health.  Without that, nothing else matters much, does it?

Losing Weight Online Review

Weight Watchers has been around forever.  It’s a sane, sound weight loss system that doesn’t need any introduction to most of us, struggling to lose weight.  It has a sound track record that goes back decades and promotes a healthy way of living versus a diet.

As with most things nowadays, Weight Watchers no longer requires you to go to meetings in order to be with the program as they’ve taken it online.  However, it’s not free.  Actually, it’s rather costly for what it is, in all reality.  It’s an online program that you follow on your own, keeping your own weigh-ins and measurements and exercise tracking on your own.

While one can see the costs in up-keeping data space and web design costs, it’s a little dubious as to why it is so costly when there is a perfectly wonderful online program that works on the same basis but, can be either free or a paid account…both of which are far less costly.

If you’ve never heard of this site before, it’s called “Spark People” and happens to be one of the best online weight loss programs that I’ve encountered thus far.

With the free program, you get all of the same trackers and more as Weight Watchers provides as well as a few extras.  You also get discussion forums and the ability to connect with others who are also aiming for the same goals that you’re trying to obtain.

If you’re 50 and over and want to meet other 50 and overs, trying to lose weight and get healthier and into a healthier lifestyle, there’s a board and group for that goal.  If you can name it, there’s a discussion on it and if you can’t find it, you can start it.

Spark offers your own trackers or, it will supply a meal menu for you with your own adjustable menu items.  It tells you how much you’ve had in a day and how much more you can have, without going over your limit.  You set the limit of how fast you want to lose and they do the calculating for you as to your particular weight, goal, speed, exercise ability, lifestyle etc..  It’s really all encompassing for free.

While Weight Watchers has developed the Points System, Spark operates on a calories level.  Not much of a hassle or difference and honestly, having come from an age where calories are what we went by, it seems far easier to know the caloric value, fat levels etc., than to figure out points.  Try going to McDonald’s and finding the point value for Weight Watchers food counts.  You’ll get their charts with the caloric value as well as all of the other stats but, you won’t find Weight Watcher’s points values.  You’ll have to pay for their charts to factor how many points you’re about to eat.

Some very eye-opening knowledge can come from counting calories versus points.

Did you know that you can have a grilled Southwest Chicken Sandwich at McDonalds for less calories than one of their dinner salads (using their dressing)?  Wouldn’t you think it would be the opposite way around?  Check out their website to find out for yourself.  It blew my mind to realize that.  I also realized that it’s ok to have a McDonald’s apple pie with my tea and not blow my calorie balance for the day.

I was astounded to go find out that ordering a toasted bagel in Tim Hortons was more calories (almost double) than having a jelly filled donut and, we don’t want to talk about the muffins.

Looking at caloric values can make you think smarter and be more aware that what you thought “should” be better for you, actually isn’t.  Whereas, with a points system, you’re still not sure where you stand because not many places will post Weight Watchers points values but, pretty much all major restaurant chains have a website where their food values are posted…especially, fast food chains.

Would I put Weight Watchers down?  Absolutely not!  It’s a sound and well researched, time honored and healthy way to lose weight.  However, it can bite into your wallet if you don’t have extra cash laying around month by month/week by week.  This is where Spark can come in and keep you on track, without the cost.  Of course, they will also offer you a Premium account, which does cost but, thus far, the free version has done well for me and a few others that I know who are now trying it out.

Take a look for yourself and see what suits you best.  Both are wonderful, sane, healthy and lifestyle changing methods to a healthier, slimmer, fitter you.

Best of luck!

An Electrical Nightmare Solved By Wilson & Wilson Electric Ltd.

I’m not one to promote a business…unless they have exemplary workmanship or services.  I will say that there is reason why I am promoting this particular company.

Wilson & Wilson Electric Ltd.
Electrical Contractors

What started off as what might seem like a simple electrical receptacle issue turned out to be a total and complete nightmare recently.

I had hired an electrical contractor to install some much-needed electrical receptacles in my store and some extra lighting, a few more odds and ends that any electrician should have been able to do…or, so I thought.

The electrical company I hired, came in and proceeded knocking holes in the walls that I do not own, leaving a mess of plaster and wire all over the place and taking my deposit on the work.

Days went by and they still hadn’t returned.  My shelving, racks and inventory were displaced and even though I’d cleaned up the broken plaster and dusted, customers commented on the difficulty of getting in to look at my merchandise.  To top that off, display lighting that did work, was no longer working, overhead lighting couldn’t be used in certain areas and somehow, my alarm system couldn’t be armed.

After placing many angry calls and leaving messages with the electrician, the inbox on their voicemail was now full and I couldn’t leave any further messages.  It’s little wonder and I was sure at this point that I wasn’t the only one who’d been left high and dry.

A fellow store owner along the strip, heard of my plight and suggested that I give his electrician a call.

Hesitantly, I placed a call to Wilson & Wilson Electric Ltd., fearful of a huge bill that I could scarcely afford and even more mess or worse, a reincarnation of the company that had put me in this jam in the first place.

Much to my surprise, Matt Wilson, the company owner and a Master Electrician, reassured me that he’d either send someone out or come himself that afternoon.

Mr. Wilson showed up that day, took a look at what had been done by the previous company, asked what I had wanted and needed done, gave me a written estimate and generally put my mind at ease that he’d take care of it personally…not to worry.

The very next day, Matt Wilson, himself, showed up, tools, wires etc. and began working.  By the end of that day, Mr. Wilson had not only completed all of tasks needed to be done but, had corrected the faults of the previous company and picked up a safety hazard in the wiring that had been done by others.

He even helped me move a couple of large shelving units as well as some larger racks the other contractors had moved out, back into place and cleaned up after his work, leaving me with nothing but satisfaction and ending up costing me less than the original contractors were to have charged.

I am so pleased by this company’s work that I felt it only fair to blog about it.

If you’re in Southern Ontario and need any type of electrical work done, don’t hesitate to call them.  I guarantee you that you’ll be happy with their services.

They’re currently wiring a new cafe-restaurant for a friend of mine and he couldn’t be happier with their services.

Take a look at their website:

WILSON & WILSON ELECTRIC LTD.