19. May 2005 · Comments Off on The Appointment-Setter’s Lament · Categories: Domestic, General, Military

(Frequent commenter J.S. Allison sent this, to be posted whenever… enjoy!— Sgt. Mom)

I work in central appointments for a military medical treatment facility and I’m tired. How tired? Let me list the ways:

1. Cell phones are wonderful; the microphones are so sensitive that I can hear everyone and everything within 100 feet of you when you call. Yes, I can tell that you’re in the bathroom, I’d really rather not.

2. Put down the Gameboy while you’re on the phone. At least pretend that this transaction actually matters to you. You called us, remember?

3. Put down the kid while you’re on the phone, especially if it’s screaming. It’s not going to get the kid in any sooner. See #1 above.

4. Multi-tasking is a myth. You’re not equipped to pull it off so stop it.

5. I generally will have somewhere between 5-12 people on queue waiting for me to help them during busy times, so make it march. I’m not being rude, I just realize that there are folk waiting that possibly actually need help so I’m going to try to move the call along as much as practical.

6. If you don’t know why you’re calling, hang up. Better yet, don’t call. I’m not psychic. I’m not taking a test, so spell it out.

7. You called us. That implies that you want something. Making it easier to help you gets you helped, making it harder gets you hung up on on my bad days and definitely reduces any inclination I might have to flexibility.

8. After spending several minutes going on about how desperately your child needs to be seen right away, do not, *DO NOT* ask me for a later appointment because your child is napping, or still in school and you don’t want to get them out. You don’t want to hear what you’ll be hearing next. And no, I won’t get fired over it. Can you say tenure? I knew you could.

9. There are only so many appointments available per day per doctor that are after school. Everybody else wants them too. Don’t expect them to still be available at 2 p.m.

10. I really don’t care that the 0720 appointment is inconvenient, set your alarm. I have to wake up at 0530 every day to get to work on time, how convenient is that?

11. You are the parent, pick the kid up, put it in the carrier, and bring it in. If it’s a self-propelled model you’re still the parent and are potentially bigger and meaner than the kid, bring it in.

12. Don’t delay the treatment of one or more of your kids so you can bring in the whole litter all at once. Oh yeah, on that whole bringing in the whole litter thing, bring another adult to keep an eye on the kids that aren’t being seen. Better yet, leave them home with said adult.

13. On the subject of making it easier to help, once you’ve turned down a few appointment times, tell me what times would be acceptable so we can quit wasting time with twenty questions, better yet, tell me from the outset.

14. This is a military medical treatment facility. As such the first priority goes to active duty military. This isn’t an issue in pediatrics (though it seems it ought to be at times…). However, in the specialty clinics, once the active duty population has been taken care of, dependents and retirees on TRICARE Prime (and other variants who are also paying a quarterly premium) have next call on available resources. Everyone else (who are not paying any premium, btw) get to pick over what’s left. Sorry, but that’s how it is. If you’re not willing to cough up for the Prime premiums get used to paying the copay downtown because your chances of being seen on base range from not much to even less depending upon the particular clinic. You can keep calling everyday, you’re not going to annoy me into giving up an appointment, there are no appointments to give and you’re only delaying your treatment.

15. It is frequently the case that after spending a couple of minutes finding and booking an appointment that the caller will, immediately following the final key press to book the appointment, ask if there’s anything later/earlier/tastier/less filling. The grinding you hear through the phone at that point is my dentures as you now want me to undo everything that was just done, and do it over. This happens at least a dozen times a day, if not more. I know, it’s not your fault but after a bunch of these, well…

16. Cussing me out because you feel that I should bend over backwards to benefit you at my expense and I didn’t do so immediately isn’t going to make me inclined to go the extra mile. On some days, I won’t even make it to the end of the call.

17. No, I’m not going to help you sidestep our policies, wink wink nudge nudge, knowwhatImean?

18. You’re the idiot that put the call on the speakerphone, not me.

19. Don’t mumble and lose the streetmeat patois. Offhanded slacker jackassery might be way kewl in other venues, but do you really want the people that’ll be tinkering with your body with toxic substances and sharp objects confused?

20. I’m convinced that hospitals should provide prospective parents with lists of names that they can choose from for their spawn, including instructions on how to spell them. Parents that saddle their spawn with unpronounceable, unspellable, misspelled, faux-ethnic names should be publicly flogged. If your child wants to make some anti-societal statement with his name, let him do it on his own, don’t saddle the poor little beggar with it when he’s too young to know what’s going on. And if it’s you that has issues, jerk your name around, not your kid’s.

21. TRICARE assigns you to a primary care manager. I will try to match you up with your caregiver’s available appointments first, then move on to other available providers in order that you be seen expeditiously. If you hate your caregiver’s guts, call TRICARE and have your PCM changed. As long as a caregiver is listed as your primary, that’s who I’m going to try to book you with first. Them’s the rules.

22. If you just can’t tolerate that you have a male caregiver, call TRICARE and have it changed. You may find yourself having to be seen offbase as there just aren’t that many wymyn providers round these parts. In any event, I don’t care, talk to the hand. I understand that in certain situations having a provider of a particular gender can be uncomfortable for that particular situation and we do try to work with these issues, but the blanket whining about all wymym all the time is quite tiresome, get over it, and yourself.

23. Just because you don’t have to pay for care, doesn’t mean that it’s worthless. A history of no-shows will get you barred from the facility as you’re preventing other folk from being seen by jerking the facility around.

24. This is the appointment desk, just tell me who you are and what you need to be seen for, I can take it from there. Save the history for your visit, I can’t do anything with it and you’re just extending the call.

25. If it’s an emergency, why are you calling me? Can you say 911?

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