May 21, 2020
We have a family Zoom call on Wednesday nights. It is just another way to keep in touch during our time of separation, especially since we live in four different states. During the call mom was asked how she was feeling, and that is when my brother ratted her out. He said he had picked mom up earlier that day in his car. After 67 days of confinement she was out in the world. Not for a hair appointment, or groceries, or even for toilet paper. She had gone to the doctor. She was fine but needed to apply two kinds of medicine two times a day. She had to wash her hands before and after each application. That meant four more times of daily hand washing. Perfect.
Last week I went to the doctor for a mandated three-month follow-up. I thought it was interesting since my last visit was six months ago. I figured they had been forced to close for all but covid-19 related cases, and now were reopening. On arrival the nurse rushed outside and took my temperature, asked me questions about my health and activity, and opened the door to let me in. I was not surprised to only see two other people in the waiting room. I filled out another long form about my habits and then was quickly seen by the doctor. When I told him I was now on Medicare, he informed me I would need to make another appointment for my annual wellness visit, something Medicare requires. I went to the front and was scheduled for a visit a week later (today).
I thought it odd when the automated call told me I had two appointments today, and they were two hours apart. I called to confirm and was told they were both for the same thing and was asked if I would like to delete one. I deleted the early visit and showed up just before 9:30. The mood was different today. No one rushed to my car and the waiting room was full, although distanced. The receptionist told me the two appointments were with two different people and I would need to reschedule. Seriously? She said she would check and came back saying I could see the person for the 9:30 but I needed to reschedule the 7:30 appointment. I waited another 30 minutes before I could see the doctor. When I finally got in, I did labs and was told how my life needed to change now that I was 65. As I left, I got a new appointment for the soonest possible date, a month from now. Aside from the masks, some things are back to normal.
THOUGHTS: My doctor is a man about my age and has always engaged me in casual conversation before the end of my visit. When I asked about the closure, he told me they had been open the entire time. I guess I was just lucky last week. He also mentioned how some of the smaller rural hospitals would probably need to close. Elective surgery is their bread and butter and had previously supported the other aspects of the business. Many had struggled before and the stoppage would send them under. This news comes at a time when the second wave is predicted to hit the already under served rural communities. If there was ever a time for a coordinated universal health care system, this is it. If you venture out, stay safe.