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Jim Mullen: Getting a first opinion

Jim Mullen • Updated Aug 11, 2018 at 3:00 PM

It seems every week I get another letter from my hospital saying that one of my doctors has resigned, and that I can choose from the following list of health care providers. The list seems to shrink each time around. There’s one M.D. on the list, along with several P.A.s, RPNs and a few titles I haven’t heard of. 

Why are my doctors all resigning? Is it me? Was it something I said? Doc, I was just joking when I said, “That’s all right, not everyone can graduate first in their class.” 

I wonder if he’s really resigning, or if they’re shoving him out the door. Is it about money? Something tells me it’s all about money. I say that because it always is. 

How come I never get a letter from the hospital that says, “Your nameless, faceless administrator has resigned. Please pick a new nameless, faceless administrator from the invisible list at the end of this letter.” Why would I not want to know the names of the administrators? They seem to be the ones running my health care, not the doctors. Something tells me that every time one of my doctors resigns, an administrator gets his wings. I mean, his money.

Who do I complain to when my doctor leaves? The person who answers the phone? Could anyone possibly have less say in how a hospital is run than the person who answers the phone? Oh, yeah, I forgot -- there is no person who answers the phone at the hospital anymore. It’s just a machine. Did all the humans resign? Why didn’t I get a letter about that? If you do get to speak to a person on the phone, they always want you to answer a few survey questions after the call. All the questions are about the person who answered the phone. I want to answer questions about the idiots who run the place. The receptionist isn’t the reason my doctors keep resigning; it’s the administrators. When do I get to answer a survey about them?

I’ve taken to asking my friends for doctor recommendations. Bob said, “I was going to ask you. I haven’t had a doctor since 2010. My old one said he didn’t get into medicine to fill out forms, and then he left the country.”

“To join Doctors Without Borders?”

“No, to move to Belize and run a diving school. Says he’s never been happier. Me, I get my medicine shipped here from some country that’s not in the U.N. It’s really inexpensive. I’m sure it’s safe. And legal. That reminds me: I’ve got to Google ‘yellow vomit’ later.”

“No,” I said, “you need to search for a good doctor instead. You look awful.”

“You should have seen me last week. I look the same, but the shakes are gone.”

They always say to get a second opinion. I’m having a hard time getting a first opinion. Who will refill my prescriptions? On one recent change of “health care providers,” as my mail-order prescription company calls everyone in the business, my new GP hadn’t even heard of some of the pills I was taking. So who do I trust? The old doctor or the new one? 

“Are you still seeing Western doctors?” my niece Sylvia asked me. 

“Apparently not,” I said.

“I know a good herbalist,” she said. I wondered if she knew any bad ones. And how she would know the difference.

So what can you do? I picked a random name off the new, shorter list of health care providers. I hope this one doesn’t resign before she orders refills of the stuff that makes me tired and the stuff that makes me queasy and the stuff that keeps me from drinking grapefruit juice. 

Sometimes I wonder if I would be better off stopping that drug and drinking the juice instead. But what do I know? I’m not an administrator.

Contact Jim Mullen at [email protected]

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