The Doctor’s office through the eyes of the patient’s daughter

I recently had a unique opportunity to see the medical office visit through the eyes of a patient, or more exactly, as the patient’s daughter. I hope those of you who read this don’t have to experience the events that I will attempt to describe.

I planned to go with my Mom to her eye doctor visit for a few reasons. Normally she is content to go by herself and fill me in on what happened after the fact. During the visit before, she had been disappointed because instead of her doctor, she was seen by someone else (not a doctor but someone else on the team, title unknown to Mom). She was not satisfied that her problem had been understood/addressed/ and the prescription  that she was given did not seem to be helpful. So, she asked me if I would make the appointment for her, and then go with her. Mom knows me well enough to know that I would be able to commandeer an appointment with The Doctor Himself, not the assistant.

On the day of the appointment, Mom was ready on time when I went to her place to pick her up. I drove her to the door of the medical center and let her out at the front door where she would wait for me to park the car and we would then go in together. Since her appointment was the first one of the day, I was betting on this being a quick visit, with me there to translate between  the doctor and my mother. My hopes were high for this successful visit with the  eye doctor and the former nurse (my Mom) now aged 92.

Mom got impatient while waiting for me to park the car. She didn’t want to be late, and decided to leave the lobby and go ahead to the part of the building where the eye doctor sees patients. No, she does not use a cell phone. She took off on her own and felt that she could find her way to the correct office. She had been there before so…..why wait for me!  When I got to the lobby and didn’t see her, I went towards the office when I spotted a nurse who works in the Medical center that knows both of us. “Yes, Dr Johnson I just saw your mother but she was headed in THAT direction” and she pointed to a corridor that leads away from where I knew we were headed. Oh no! She is going to make us late! I took a chance and ran to the office that we were expected to be in on the off chance  that it wasn’t my Mother that she saw. I arrived and saw no patients in the waiting room. I asked the woman behind the reception desk if the Dr was there. She said he had not arrived. I told her my Mother had an appointment at 8:30 .She informed me that I still had 10 minutes before we would be late (!). I told her my Mothers name. She barely looked up and said she knew the doctor would be on time  ( as if to say, we should probably try to do the same). To shorten this tale, let me just tell you that for the next 45 minutes I searched frantically for my now lost 92 year old mother. I retraced the path back to the lobby. I got security involved. I open all the ladies room doors in case she had gone in one of them and not come out. Security radioed all the bus drivers  who shuttle the Riderwood residents from buildings to shopping centers, etc. No one had Annie Johnson on board.  I went back to her apartment  (called her there, but no answer) . Not there. I went to the front desk of her building and the kind receptionist said, let me call around. She called some of the places she is known to visit. “Annie is not here”, they all said. She said, “Let me try the eye doctor’s office”. I said I have been there already. She could not have passed me  and I didn’t see her anywhere.  The doctors office answered. Yes, Mrs Johnson is here and the doctor has seen her. She is waiting in the waiting room.

I drove back. I have to add this—as I stood around the lobby with the security chief I spotted the Doctor himself and introduce myself as his patient’s daughter. He was informed that we would probably be a bit late since I don’t know where she disappeared to  after I asked her to wait for me in the lobby. He was very nice, and suggested that she must have had some cognitive losses since her last visit with him over a year ago. I agreed.

So I arrived at the office. Mom was glad to see me . She had idea how I had been frantically searching for her for the past 45 minutes, with the security forces and desk clerks. WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN??? The doctors assistant informed me that Mom had been there the whole time. She had taken her into the exam room to put in the eyedrops so she was ready when the Doctor arrived. Very efficient. HMMMM so why didn’t the front desk person know that? Did the Doctor mention to Mom that he met her daughter looking for her near the front door of the main building. Did anyone offer to call me on my cell phone that is always attached to my person. WHY DID I HAVE TO PLEAD WITH HEAVEN TO JUST LET HER BE FOUND ALIVE this morning.

Was is too much to ask?  I hope that if a senior citizen, or any patient for that matter, enters the door of my office, my staff would be able to recall that fact. Communication was in too short supply at this  medical office. The front desk receptionist can make all the difference in the success of a medical practice. If I didn’t already know this I surely learned it today.