Kaiser you blew it
Friday July 22nd 2011, 10:26 pm
Filed under: Friends

Warning: this is a rant. It’s not G’s fault in any way, shape, or form. They did her wrong.

It is not easy to be a musician by nature and upbringing and to have lost so much of my hearing. But it’s life and you deal.

Sometimes, though, others, making assumptions that everybody is like everybody else, make it suddenly exquisitely painful all over again. Thank you Kaiser Permanente, where you made my deafness a potential threat to someone’s very life.

Here’s what they did. My friend G had to have follow-up tests done there today and they had her booked for 7:15 am-3 pm. Not an easy time for her, and they told her to have someone drive her there and pick her up.

I am not a morning person, and if I am a person up at that hour I’m getting ready to drive my daughter to the train station–so I offered to do the afternoon pick up. That was fine; someone else offered to take care of the early part so we had her covered.

Turns out, Richard took Michelle this morning and let me sleep in.

The phone rang after he left. I did not hear it. The phone rang again and again. I was in the shower, apparently, when there were hang-up calls. I heard a call, but it was the too-usual telemarketer; no, he’s not home.

I checked my email. Oh good, there was one sent from G early this morning giving details on just where to find her when I came; I’ve never been to Kaiser Santa Clara, that was very good to know.

Being so bad on the lupus sun sensitivity, I don’t go outside on a summer afternoon if I can avoid it, even to park and run in, but when someone needs you to go you just go.

There was no 700 number on the side of the building as I drove in via the main entrance; I had to go in the next building over, look for the map, come back outside, and go back in the right one. A little extra outside time. Down a corridor connecting to yet another building, and finally the right room.

No sign of her. I’d left early to give myself extra time and with my knitting in hand, I was ready to wait as long as she might need. I asked, and eventually got sent upstairs–another map, another corridor, another stop and ask.

The new room was in a department that had nothing to do with the tests that she was going in for as far as I knew, nor did I imagine she did either coming in. I worried about her.

They checked: Oh, she recovered in here but she’s not here, she went home.

She what?!

Someone checked in downstairs and they got her.

No, wait, *I* checked in downstairs. I did not get her yet–I’m here to pick her up.

The receptionist checked again and insisted, She’s gone home, someone came and took her in a wheelchair to their car and took her home. The woman didn’t quite add, “Honest!” but implied and implored it.

I had no idea what I was supposed to do. I didn’t want to leave my friend stranded. It had taken a half hour to get there through the traffic that was rapidly increasing out there–there could be no quick turnaround if it turned out I did. I checked my cellphone and was horrified to realize how few numbers I had in there of my friends from church: this was because I use my cellphone as my address book and I don’t use it for an actual phone. Texting, yes. But I email or call locals from home as needed, I don’t text with them, my address book is full of far-away folks for the most part: the voice quality is wretched, I can’t hear on the darn thing.

It was not a fun drive home. I had no way to know till I got to my amplified landline I could actually hear on, no idea if she’d be awake, thinking that likely I’d be disturbing her recovery. But I was responsible for her well-being, I had to know.

Well, she was up after I called her from my kitchen. And here’s the kicker:

It turns out that when she’d arrived at Kaiser, after a far too long wait to get that appointment she so much needed, they told her that they personally had to ascertain that the person whom she said was coming at 3:00 was for real. Or they would turn her away.

Now, I can understand wanting to make sure someone’s going to pick the patient up, and that’s par for the course, advising an about-to-be patient in advance that they are not to drive themselves home. Making sure they know that if all else fails, they’ll have to call a cab.

But calling at an hour when I was not yet awake, and threatening her with the potential loss of maybe even her life by the further delay if I don’t hear, which I could not, and answer my phone unless she can get someone else right now right on the spot (which fortunately she did), is just unconscionable.


“Listen to your answering machine,” G told me.

I’d had no reason to check my answering machine. Everything had been arranged and agreed upon and I’d been home all morning and hadn’t heard but the one call.

So there it was: with the tape proclaiming the early hour, an impenetrable, muffled strange voice that I could make not one word out of. Beep!

And one “Hello?” that was apparently G. Beep!

And several hang-up calls. Beep! Beep!

And, at the last, a call from the other friend: the one who’d dropped her off this morning, who turned around later and went back and got her just ahead of me, letting me know she was taking care of it…

Missed that one too.

(Yeah, I’m worried about my friend, can you tell?)

11 Comments so far
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Definitely deserves a rant!

Comment by LynnM 07.23.11 @ 1:14 am

What?! That was a VERY polite rant, under the circumstances. Hrmph.

Now. I’m thinking that if a certain little dog comes to live with us, he needs a tag that lists our number and instead of his name I AM DEAF. I’m thinking Sissy needs the same, only with her own glaucoma thing… Does that make sense?

Comment by Channon 07.23.11 @ 7:22 am

Oh rant on! You deserve to vent!

Comment by Jody 07.23.11 @ 7:23 am

oh good grief! that was a very restrained venting — I’m sure I would have been much more colorful

I am glad it all worked out, but sorry you had such a stressful day!!

Comment by Bev 07.23.11 @ 9:23 am

Vent. Rant. And tell Kaiser IF they must verify the 3pm driver in the morning, then that instruction must be given to the patient before the appointment day. I am so sorry they added more stress to you and your friend. Added to my long list of why I don’t like Kaiser.

Comment by DebbieR 07.23.11 @ 9:42 am

Rant away! There has got to be a better way to deal with such events. And people who need to be understood need to speak clearly, distinctly, not in the mumble that not even a reasonably hearing person can understand. I find “messaging” helps, even though I’m slow at it. But so many people have impaired hearing, esp. as we age, that medical personnel esp. need to recognize this and take the extra moment to make something work. So annoying. More than a reasonable rant!

Comment by Luise 07.23.11 @ 9:49 am

They wait ’til the actual moment of the check-in to do this? Seriously??? wtf!

Comment by Renee 07.23.11 @ 9:55 am

Looks like everyone ahead of me said it all. DebbieR has the right idea. I hope Kaiser gets told!

Comment by Don Meyer 07.23.11 @ 10:18 am

And the last thing you need as a patient is that level of uncertainty! My hugs for G, too.

Comment by Diana Troldahl 07.24.11 @ 2:54 pm

Rant deserved.

Comment by Sherry in Idaho 07.24.11 @ 3:25 pm

The day before my knee surgery, I went to Kaiser Sunset to see the surgeon, get the blood work, drop off forms, and go through pre-admission. Well. I had two gimpy knees — one of which would be fixed — and a cane. No one told me I should have someone to cart me around. I walked all over the danged complex, all day, on my cane with a thick folder of paperwork and an increasing desire to level the complex. Communication is NOT the strong point of Kaiser.

Comment by Patricia Day 07.25.11 @ 10:52 am

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