dealing with important people

Just read a, very entertaining, blog post by Linda … my blogging buddy, which brought up many memories, even though on a different level. For eight years, I worked in a health care clinic. There were eight to ten GP:s, lab, physiotherapy and occupational therapy. I worked as a medical transcriptionist and certain days at the front desk. Also took care of the computer network in the clinic.

Each year, you could read in the local paper that «this year’s FLU has arrived! First case verified!!!» If you read that in the paper before going to work in the morning, then you knew what was coming! The waiting area would be packed with people, demanding the flu shot! These newspaper articles were always unfortunate, because they were too early. People who had read this, didn’t back off … they HAD TO have their flu shot then and there … not susceptible to reason, that they’d be out of protection when the flu really arrived. This could happen two, three months later.

One year this whole thing turned out even more unfortunate. It had been decided, from ‘up above’, that patients with a coronary/pulmonary condition would get their flu shot for FREE! Imagine that … the others had to pay some $30! This decision was so ill thought-through … or rather, not at all. Everyone claimed to have a heart condition of some sort, no one at the front desk had received any information about how to deal with this. We, who were working there, ended up in endless discussions with patients … trying to explain to them that they had to have some note from their Dr. that they really were eligible for a free shot. Many of them considered themselves to be ‘very important people’ and should somehow be eligible just  because of that, and *don’t you know who I AM??* Since this was a very small town, I did know who most people were, but I didn’t necessarily want to feed their egos even more.

They didn’t make that mistake the following year … it was free for all.

This job …. those days, when I worked at the front desk, often made me wonder: «what gives them the right to be this rude  to me … I’m just sitting here, doing this job for a lousy salary?!» Of course, this is such a common situation … receptionists and switch board operators often have to take the crap for somebody else’s decisions and policies.

One event stands out in my memory in particular. One woman walked in, late one afternoon, without passing the front desk. This wasn’t totally uncommon, because they might just have an appointment for blood sampling or some such, and that didn’t cost anything. However, there was this system, so each time they went to see a Dr. and paid, they got a stamp in a card. When they’d paid approx. $300 they got to see the Dr. for free the rest of the year.

The following morning, the same woman walked in. The waiting area was crowded. The only reason I remembered her from the day before, was that I liked her purse (!!!). This time, she ‘reported’ to the front desk … she was going to see the Dr, paid, and I stamped her card. I asked her amicably, whether she’d seen the Dr. yesterday too … because she was almost on the limit for receiving a ‘free card’.  She totally lost it!!! I’ve never seen anybody get so mad, so quickly. She yelled and asked if I was the police or worse, turned out towards the crowd and shouted something about ‘nazis’ and I don’t know what… So much for trying to be helpful.

As a counterweight to this story, I also remember a very timid, little old lady, who had somehow sneaked in, unnoticed …. sat in the waiting area for hours, without saying a word. Just before closing time, she came up to me and asked if she could talk to someone. I said, ‘sure, what’s the matter?’ She just held her arm up, and you could see how one of the bones in the forearm was sticking OUT underneath the skin!!! The pain must have been excruciating  and she had probably sat there for two hours!

It was an interesting job, at times.






4 thoughts on “dealing with important people”

  1. Working in health care is always interesting. And that is not always a good thing. I remember working in a hospital that the worst patients to take care of were the welfare people. They were demanding and and bossy. Probably the only time in their lives they could be. The wealthy patients were usually nice and polite. Of course, these did not hold true for all.

  2. Hi,
    It is sometimes very difficult when working with the public, I have also been there but of course in a different environment, sometimes you just want to scream, but every now and then you get people like the “little old lady” and it does put things back into perspective.

  3. Thank you for mentioning my blog. Your story is one that is familiar to me as well having worked in a gyn clinic. One day all of us should write one of those novels where we start and then others pick up….the stories we could tell. Although, I’m just not up for remembering and writing about all of it.

    Good story. Makes one wonder what makes people tick.

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