Sutter

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Cancer Journey: Part 14

Published June 21, 2018 by lynn k scott

After yet another phone call with Sutter Health, my oncology referral to Sacramento was denied.  The reason is the doctor is limiting her practice.  They referred me back to Vallejo.  I lived in Vallejo for eight years.  It’s gotten progressively worse and we moved away from that cesspool over six years ago.

I will be getting to see a native-English speaking doctor.  However, she is only in Vallejo one day a week, because her primary office is in a better city.   Colored me surprised…

I tried to make the appointment yesterday, only to be told the new patient coordinator was already gone for the day.  What?  It was 2:15 p.m.  Must be nice.  I left a voicemail that I needed to make an appointment and asked her to return my call.

Now, I tried to schedule an appointment with this provider three months ago.  They were unable to accommodate my schedule and Valerie, the coordinator, either hates her job or believes she is above us poor cancer patients.  I had the displeasure of dealing with her again.

Conversation starts with her calling me back and asking how she could help me.  Ummm…I know I left a message regarding booking an appointment (you know…you’re job – but I didn’t say that).  So, we had to start from scratch.  She never bothered to look for my referral before calling me back.  She had the wrong address (even though I corrected it last time we spoke and it was on the referral).  She didn’t like my exasperated tone.  She kept telling me to stop yelling at her.  At that point, I wasn’t.  However, after the third time she said it, and I told her she was part of the problem, she said, “did you just hear yourself?”

It was then I asked for her supervisor.  I wasn’t going to tolerate her crap a second time around.  Even my coworker, who could hear everything, and knows I wasn’t initially yelling, said, “I can’t believe how much trouble they are causing you.”  See, it’s not just me.  Part of the biggest obstacle of seeing a provider is their staff.  I finally raised my voice at Valerie, didn’t want to make a liar out of her, requested her supervisor and muttered a few not-so-nice words.  Ooops…she heard me…oh well…

Spoke to the supervisor and she starts to tell me that the doctor doesn’t go to the city I live in.  Umm…DUH!  I never said I wanted to see her there.  I knew she was in Vallejo and that’s I was trying to make the appointment.  Valerie couldn’t even get that straight.  We made the appointment.  I was supposed to receive a form to authorize the release of my records.  Three hours later…NOTHING!

I found the form online (which the supervisor should have known it was there).  Completed it, called for the fax number and printed the confirmation that it went through.

So now I sit and wait until my appointment next week.  The only benefit of seeing this doctor is that if I have to have any procedures, I will cross the bridge (same distance as going to Sacramento) and be seen in a better facility, in a better city.

Physicians and their staff need to be held to some sort of standard by the insurance carrier.  Patients need to have a recourse against them and their ‘holier than thou’ attitude.

I admit, I am less-than Christlike in my dealings with the medical community.  I attempt to “behave” for every interaction, yet it rarely plays out that way.  I keep praying for tolerance, but I’m not great at waiting for a response.  I have been “labeled” by my insurance and the providers; almost like a medical blackball.  I’m not giving up and I’m going to raise Cain, Hell and whatever else needs raising til patients are seen as people who need help; attitude be damned!

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Cancer Journey: Part 5

Published December 8, 2017 by lynn k scott

I met with a new oncologist yesterday.  Truth be told, I had several mini-meltdowns, at work no-less, trying to get an emergency referral to this new doctor.  I’m on my “off” week for my chemo-cycle and needed the referral, be seen and have the medication ordered and delivered, by today, in order to stay on track.

Prayers were definitely answered.  If you have followed up to now, you know I have received less-than-stellar care for my cancer.  To the point, the doctors should be sued.  Yea, it was that bad.

I walk into this new office; very apprehensive.  Very nice office staff.  They pointed out coffee and tea were available, if I wanted some.  Coffee?  That HAS to be a sign!  The computer system wasn’t cooperating, and the staff was apologizing to me for the wait and having to switch rooms.  Respect?  I’m not used that.  Such a simple thing, yet so many people no longer offer common courtesies.

Then I met the doctor.  She genuinely seemed concerned.  Part of the reason is because I’m technically too young to have colon cancer; without a family history of it.  I told her, what I have told a handful of doctors, there has been a lot of different cancer in my immediate family.  She took note of it.  Then mentioned something no one else has:  Lynch Syndrome.   She thinks I may have this.  From what I have read on the syndrome, it would explain the cancer in my paternal grandmother, my father and my 37-year old sister, and of course, now me.

I have previously declined genetic testing because two previous doctors were focusing on my risk of breast cancer.  They failed to elaborate when I didn’t see a need for it.  Based on other family member’s testing, I am almost certain I have an increased risk of breast cancer.  I didn’t need a test to confirm that.

My new oncologist pointed out, if I had Lynch syndrome, it’s more than just treating me; it could affect my children.  They would have a 50% chance of having the gene that causes the syndrome, thereby increasing their risk of certain cancers.

I am extremely grateful and blessed that I have been assigned to an empathetic, compassionate and caring physician.  This is how healthcare should be.  It shouldn’t be getting patients in and out in record time with minimal information.  Communication is so crucial, yet, often downplayed because too many doctors have their routine and expect patients to conform to it.

Toward the end of the appointment, she said, “you have five children and you need to live.”  That almost brought me to tears.  My chemo has been pushed out (more cycles added).  Extra testing has been ordered.  Vitamin D has been added to my daily dose of pill consumption.  There will be a PET scan and other testing once all the chemo has been concluded.

Overall, my prayers and those praying for me have been answered.  Prayers are still needed (and welcomed) as this battle is far from over.  At least now I feel like I have a fighting chance.

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